On Tuesday, SpaceX plans to launch not only a new rocket platform, but a new era of private space enterprises with the inaugural flight of the seven-year in the making Falcon Heavy. Much ado has been made about this massive platform’s mind boggling 27 Merlin rocket engines, producing thrust equal to that of approximately 18 commercial airliners, and this week, it appears that it’s finally time for Elon Musk and his private space agent to put their money where their mouth is.
On Tuesday, weather permitting, the Falcon Heavy will assume the throne as most powerful operational rocket platform on the planet, and that’s no laughing matter. If successful, Tuesday’s launch promises to be the first American rocket even capable of propelling a manned mission to the moon to take to the skies since the retirement of the storied Saturn V platform that powered the Apollo missions into the history books in the 1960s and 70s.
The powerful platform, which was first announced in 2011, is capable of carrying a stunning 64 metric tons (141,000 pounds) into orbit by harnessing the more than five million pounds of thrust it’s three rocket cores produce. That’s more that twice the power allotted by the current heavyweight title holder, the Delta IV, which remains the most powerful platform in operation on the planet until the Falcon Heavy takes to the skies.
Although the Falcon heavy doesn’t boast enough power to set any all-time records, managing to keep all of those rockets working in unison has proven troublesome for Musk’s company. Even as he announced that the rocket’s first payload would be his one of a kind Tesla Roadster last year, he still tempered his enthusiasm by reminding people that there’s a good chance that the rocket will simply explode as it attempts to launch.