SpaceX CEO Elon Musk just revealed that the first demonstration flight of the Falcon Heavy is scheduled for late summer this year. During the demo, the company might also include an attempt to reland and retrieve the upper stage of the rocket. However, that appears more complex done than said as the bigger vehicle is no Falcon 9, rather it consists of three Falcon 9 core at its center. The cores are built of 27 Merlin engines, with an estimated output of 5 million pounds of thrust.
“Falcon Heavy is one of those things that at first it sounded easy,” Musk said. “We’ll just take two first stages and use them as strap-on boosters. And like, actually no, this is crazy hard, and required a redesign of the center core, and a ton of additional hardware. It was actually shockingly difficult to go from a single core to a triple-core vehicle.”
Twice the capacity
In terms of what it can carry to orbit, the Falcon Heavy will feature a max cargo capacity of 119,000 pounds. Which is twice the payload capacity of the Delta IV Heavy from ULA, the current leader in operational launch craft. However, for the actual mission, the capacity will be less. And it also goes down if the objective is to reuse the rocket.
Falcon Heavy test flight currently scheduled for late summer
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 31, 2017
Retrieve and reuse of the parts of Falcon Heavy are necessary for SpaceX if it wants to fulfill its mission of human colonization of Mars using a reusable spaceship called “Interplanetary Transport System.” As of now, there are more achievable goals are waiting for it, such as retrieving a Falcon 9’s second stage, as well as relaunching a used rocket 24 hours later of its first flight.