SpaceX shared a video of the first-ever static fire test for the Falcon Heavy rocket on Tuesday, at the aerospace giant’s McGregor, Texas Rocket Development Facility. This seem to be going well, judging from the 18-second clip.
When operational later this year, the Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world and be able to lift 119,000 pounds of cargo into orbit, about ten times more than the typical load a Falcon 9 takes to the International Space Station. For example, the SES-10 launch in April carried with it a geostationary communications satellite that weighed in at about 9,500 pounds. The Falcon Heavy’s first stage is composed of three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores (that’s 27 separate Merlin engines) and can generate more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, about the equivalent thrust of eighteen 747 aircrafts. This is the aircraft that will send humans into space, an eventually, SpaceX projects, on journeys to Mars.
The Falcon Heavy is big, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s actually just the middle child between the Falcon 9 and the BFR, or Big Fucking Rocket. The BFR, which is still in early development is the size of a skyscraper at 400 feet tall. And it will be able to generate four times the thrust of the Saturn V, Musk said during a recent TED talk. Musk says the BFR will offer “the thrust equivalent of 120 747s with all engines blazing.”
But until the BFR is a real thing, let’s focus on the beauty that is Falcon Heavy.
The first launch will only be a demonstration, but it will be a glorious moment for humans because the Heavy was built with the purpose of launching humans into space — first on a trip around the moon in 2018 — and then to Mars. This means, that if it is successful in flight, we are a giant step closer to the red planet, and that’s pretty cool.
Here’s the video posted by SpaceX Tuesday:
And here’s an artist’s video rendering of what the first launch will look like, complete with a rockin’ guitar jam as rocket videos typically have. The video shows the two Falcon 9 boosters that make up the Falcon Heavy descend to Earth safely, ready for relaunch first, followed late by the central booster. It’s all very precise, and it’s slated to happen later this year.