On the afternoon of February 6, SpaceX will launch its Falcon Heavy rocket. This is an upgraded version of the SpaceX Falcon 9 that the company has had recent success with. The new rocket will have three times the power of the Falcon 9 making it the most powerful rocket in the world today.
If the launch is a success, it will mark a turning point for SpaceX. The new rocket would be able to carry as much payload as the large Saturn 5 rockets that the United States used at the height of the manned space program prior to the use of the space shuttles. With the increased payload capacity, SpaceX could garner contracts from the Air Force in order to launch observational satellites used to spy on other countries. SpaceX rockets could also be used by NASA to launch heavier probes used for deep space exploration.
The SpaceX Falcon Heavy will just be on a test mission this go around. No satellites or paid for cargo will on board. Instead, the payload on this test mission will be a Tesla vehicle. The Tesla car company is also owned by Elon Musk who is the owner of SpaceX.
Space X has made some important innovations in space launches over the course of the last few years. Its most important development was in the area of rocket boosters. The SpaceX rocket boosters are able to be recovered after they separate from the main vehicle. The recovered boosters are then reused. This cuts down on costs drastically making space launches more affordable.
There is a lot that could go wrong with the test launch today. Some of the previous SpaceX rockets have exploded on take off. If this happens in today’s launch, there could be serious damage to the launchpad, and that could take many months to repair.
Elon Musk’s ultimate goal with SpaceX is to launch a mission to Mars. The test of the rocket today is just one more step in the direction of that goal.