The Falcon Heavy is slated to take flight for the first time on February 6 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. This uncrewed mission is a monumental test for what SpaceX has called its “most powerful rocket,” and it will either end in applause or one big explosion.
SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk, has been upfront about how this historic launch could go terribly wrong. But he also tweeted a graphic on Tuesday depicting how a perfectly executed Falcon Heavy launch would look like. It looks like something out of a NFL playbook.
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The Falcon Heavy consists of three rocket cores, which are essentially three Falcon 9s bundled together. This rocket trifecta is capable of producing over 5 million pounds of force at full power, enough to propel Musk’s Tesla Roadster to Mars.
The only thing going into deep space will be the payload, while the three rockets will try to land themselves back on Earth. It’ll be like three Falcon 9 landings happening all at once.
Once the payload has breached Earth’s atmosphere, the two lateral boosters will detach themselves from the main thruster. These two rockets will then have to pull off a “flip maneuver” outside of the atmosphere in order to position themselves vertically for landing back at Cape Canaveral.
Update: The Falcon Heavy demonstration launched has happened. Watch the full mission video below.
The main thruster will propel the payload a bit further, but once the thruster has detached it will flip itself using its cold gas thrusters in order to land upright. Instead of touching down at Cape Canaveral, the main thruster is set to land on the droneship Of Course I Still Love You in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
If all goes according to plan, SpaceX should be able to reuse all three of these rockets in future missions. Oh, and Musk will finally prove that the rocket he’s been bragging about for years now actually works.