SpaceX is getting ready to launch its Falcon Heavy - the world's most powerful operational rocket

Sarah Spickernell
Follow Sarah
The rocket's launch was first scheduled for 2013 (Source: Spacex)
Not one to be perturbed by a couple of missed landings, SpaceX - the space company founded by Tesla entrepreneur Elon Musk - has announced plans to attempt one of its boldest rocket launches yet: sending the Falcon Heavy, the world's most powerful rocket, into space for the first time.
At a conference in Pasadena last week, Lee Rosen, SpaceX's vice president of mission and launch operations, told Space News the event had been finalised for early spring next year.
He said:
It’s going to be a great day when we launch the Falcon Heavy, some time in the late April – early May timeframe.

Made up of three Falcon 9 rockets attached to each other, the vessel is capable of carrying 115,000 lbs (53,000 kg) into low-Earth orbit – double the amount any other current rocket is capable of transporting.
Only two rockets have ever been able to deliver larger payloads – the Saturn V, used to power Apollo missions to the moon, and the Soviet Energia rocket. Neither of these is in use any more.

Artist's impression of the Falcon Heavy launching into space (Source: SpaceX)

A successful launch will pave the way for delivery of 37 satellites into space for the US Air Force in September 2016.
Rosen said Falcon Heavy launches are also being planned to deliver satellites for Immarsat and ViaSat before next year comes to an end.

A series of launches are being planned for the latter half of 2016 (Source: SpaceX)

Getting to this point hasn't been a smooth ride for the company, which was set up by Elon Musk in 2002 to revolutionise space travel. The Falcon Heavy's launch was first scheduled for 2013, but a series of delays resulted in the event being pushed back a number of times.
Most recently, SpaceX was faced with the failure of its Falcon 9 rocket, which was due to resupply the International Space Station, June this year. A few minutes after its launch in Florida, the rocket exploded.

Related articles