SpaceX Conducts First Static Fire Test for Falcon Heavy

Camille Francis
January 28, 2018

The Falcon Heavy is based on the Falcon 9 but triples the number of first-stage engines, providing more lift.

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy was tested in its own launch side LC-39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Falcon Heavy will generate over five million pounds of thrust at lift-off via three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores containing 27 Merlin engines that are configured with eight engines surrounding one centre engine on each core.

In fact, SES-16 will kick off a busy two weeks for SpaceX, with four launches (three Falcon 9s and 1 Falcon Heavy) slated to occur between 30 January and mid-February.

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk also posted on Twitter talking about Falcon Heavy. "Launching in a week or so".

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The sheer power of Falcon Heavy is eminently clear in this lovely capture by Tom Cross.

It was Musk's first tweet in more than a week.

For the test flight, however, SpaceX is going much crazier. Musk hopes to use the Falcon Heavy to send tourists around the Moon, and to send supplies to Mars for a manned mission. While a launch date is not now scheduled, SpaceX founder Elon Musk expects to launch within "a week or so".

The Falcon 9 is now used to hoist satellites and supplies to the International Space Station.

"I love the thought of a vehicle drifting apparently endlessly through space and perhaps being discovered by an alien race millions of years in the future". It is likely that the main objective of Falcon Heavy's extended static fire was to ensure that SpaceX had developed a safe and functional method of igniting all 27 engines without damaging itself, a real risk from the torque of each engine's turbopump operating in the same orientation. After blasting off from NASA's historic Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center, all three will attempt vertical landings, two on land and one on a floating offshore platform.

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