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SpaceX Sets Schedule Of First Falcon Heavy Rocket Launch

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All eyes are on SpaceX as it prepares the much-awaited launch of Falcon Heavy rocket on Feb. 6 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced the launch date of Falcon Heavy's maiden flight in a tweet over the weekend.

"Aiming for first flight of Falcon Heavy on Feb 6 from Apollo launchpad 39A at Cape Kennedy. Easy viewing from the public causeway."

The Falcon Heavy, which is three times more powerful than the company's current flagship spacecraft, the Falcon 9, will lift off from Launch Pad 39A, the same pad use for NASA's launching of Apollo missions and space shuttle flights.

Most Powerful Rocket

Although no specific launch time was announced, the liftoff is likely to take place at 1:30 p.m. EST with a three-hour launch window.

The first flight of the Falcon Heavy comes after a successful engine firing test last week that ignited the rocket's main engines.

Described as the world's most powerful rocket built to date, the Falcon Heavy stands at 229 feet and measures 40 feet wide. It will pack nearly 4.7 million pounds of thrust — much more power than any launcher has generated. Inside it are 27 Merlin engines housed in Falcon 9 nine-engine cores.

If the launch is successful, the Falcon Heavy, with a lifting capacity of 54 tons to low-Earth orbit, will be twice as powerful as any rocket in current operation.

The Falcon Heavy will be the first spacecraft to deliver large payloads to low-Earth orbit inside a composite fairing. NASA's Saturn V rocket, which was used for the Apollo moon landings, was retired in 1973.

Delayed For Years

Musk first unveiled the Falcon Heavy project in 2011 as the rocket designed to take humans to space and a crewed mission to Mars.

The Falcon Heavy has been in the works for several years now and has seen more than a few delays.

In May last year, SpaceX released a video showing the Falcon Heavy's core engines going through their first static test, an indication of a real possible launch.

The Falcon Heavy underwent fit checks and fueling tests at the Launch Pad 39A since it was raised at the space facility last Dec. 28, 2017.

The rocket weighs more than 3.1 million pounds and loaded with kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants.

Maiden Flight

For its maiden mission, the Falcon Heavy will send into deep space a Tesla Roadster, a midnight-cherry red model from Musk's personal collection.

The Tesla will be mounted inside the Falcon Heavy's upper covering and will boost into a heliocentric orbit around the sun on trajectory as far away as the orbit of Mars.

"I love the thought of a car drifting apparently endlessly through space and perhaps being discovered by an alien race millions of years in the future," Musk replied when asked on Twitter why he wanted to throw away a $100,000 electric sportscar.

The Falcon Heavy is basically three Falcon 9 cores strapped together. The first stage of the Falcon Heavy is composed of three cores — a center core and two side boosters that are connected at the base and top of the center core's liquid oxygen tank.

After liftoff, the center core engines will throttle down, allowing the side cores to separate before the center core engine throttles back up to full thrust. During the first launch, Falcon Heavy's engines will be throttled to 92 percent of full power.

SpaceX will webcast the launch. VIPs can buy a ticket to watch the launch at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Complex.

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