SpaceX Falcon Heavy: Mysterious Sighting Sparks Launch Rumors
A series of videos and images shared over the weekend point to something big happening at the SpaceX campus, with rumors suggesting the Falcon Heavy could fly again soon. A mysterious object has been sighted at the Hawthorne campus and in Arizona that resembles the rocket’s side booster, suggesting the world’s most powerful rocket in operation may fly for the first time since its initial February test launch.
The best video footage of the would-be Falcon Heavy rocket comes courtesy of Twitter user “Manic_Marge” who told Inverse she was walking her dog Maggie Maye when she spotted a cloaked cylindrical object with a white dome leaving the campus by truck. She shared a 13-second clip with social media followers, where it received over 100 likes. The next day, about 370 miles from the campus, Reddit user “beast-sam” spotted a similar object in Maricopa, Arizona, traveling southwest on Smith Einke Road with police clearing the way. The latter upload received over 2,000 upvotes from the SpaceX fan community, with commenters praising the user for the “stinkin’ badass” discovery.
See more: SpaceX Falcon Heavy vs. Delta IV Heavy: 4 Key Differences
Assuming it is a Falcon Heavy side booster, it’s unclear when it will fly. SpaceFlightNow lists the Arabsat 6A mission for takeoff from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida as happening in early 2019, after being delayed from the first half of 2018. The Arabsat 60’s goal is to offer communications for the Middle East. Another candidate for the rocket is the STP-2 mission for the same time period and launch location, which plans to send a group of military research satellites into orbit for the United States Air Force.
The Falcon Heavy test flight made international news when it launched CEO Elon Musk’s red Tesla Roadster into orbit, complete with a dummy in a SpaceX suit and a music player looping David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” The Heavy can lift around 141,000 pounds into orbit — more than twice that of the Delta IV — at what SpaceX claims is a fraction of the cost. It uses three Falcon 9 cores to create over five million pounds of thrust at lift-off.
Of course, this could all pale in comparison to what’s planned for the BFR, set to take humans on a manned mission to Mars. With a payload capacity of 150 tons to low Earth orbit, compared to the 54.4 tons of the Falcon Heavy, the fully-reusable rocket should impress when it starts “hop tests” in Texas next year.
SpaceX declined to comment on this story to Inverse.