SpaceX is planning to launch their Falcon Heavy rocket into space, as early as Wednesday, January 10. The payload will be a new Tesla Roadster – red, of course – playing “Space Oddity” by David Bowie on its radio.
The Falcon Heavy is capable of lifting more than twice as much payload to orbit – and beyond – than any other rocket anywhere in the world. At liftoff, the 27 Merlin engines powering the vehicle deliver over five million pounds of thrust – roughly equivalent to 18 times as much power as a 747 Jumbo jet. Only the Saturn V rocket which brought 12 men to the Moon produced more thrust than this new rocket, awaiting takeoff on Launchpad 40 at Cape Canaveral.
“Team at the Cape completed additional propellant loading tests today. Extreme weather slowed operations but Falcon 9 and the Zuma spacecraft are healthy and go for launch,” SpaceX announced on Twiiter.
Payloads during rocket test flights are usually dummy loads of a heavy material. However, SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk found that idea too ordinary for his tastes.
“Test flights of new rockets usually contain mass simulators in the form of concrete or steel blocks. That seemed extremely boring. Of course, anything boring is terrible, especially companies, so we decided to send something unusual, something that made us feel. The payload will be an original Tesla Roadster, playing Space Oddity, on a billion year elliptic Mars orbit,” Musk wrote in an Instagram post showing off the vehicle.
The Falcon Heavy, like its predecessor, the Falcon 9, is a two-stage rocket, with the second stage driven by a single Merlin engine. This system may be restarted multiple times, allowing crews to alter their orbit several times during a mission.
The Falcon Heavy, once fully tested and operational, will be utilized to bring cargo – and human crews – to the Moon and Mars.