SpaceX's 1st Falcon Heavy Rocket Now at Launchpad Ahead of Maiden Flight

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SpaceX's Falcon Heavy megarocket was rolled out on the launchpad today (Dec. 28), as the company prepares for the rocket's maiden flight, which is scheduled for next month.

NASA confirmed today that the Falcon Heavy has been moved to Launchpad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rocket will undergo various tests before it takes off; SpaceX has not yet confirmed a launch date.

If all goes well, the Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful rocket in operation, with nearly twice the lifting power of the next-most powerful rocket, according to NASA. It will be the most powerful rocket to launch from Launch Complex 39A since NASA's Saturn V, which sent astronauts to the moon, according to NASA.

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SpaceX's founder and CEO, Elon Musk, announced earlier this month that a Tesla Roadster will launch on the first Falcon Heavy , and that it will be sent on a trajectory aimed for Mars orbit. However, Musk has also said publicly that there is a "good chance" something will go wrong during the maiden launch and the rocket's payload won't make it into orbit. 

The Falcon Heavy's first stage consists of three Falcon 9 boosters, each of which contains nine Merlin engines ― 27 engines total. Earlier this year, Musk said he eventually wants SpaceX to phase out work on the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, to focus on an even larger rocket that could be used to send large payloads (and even people) to Mars.

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Calla Cofield
Senior Writer

Calla Cofield joined's crew in October 2014. She enjoys writing about black holes, exploding stars, ripples in space-time, science in comic books, and all the mysteries of the cosmos. Prior to joining Calla worked as a freelance writer, with her work appearing in APS News, Symmetry magazine, Scientific American, Nature News, Physics World, and others. From 2010 to 2014 she was a producer for The Physics Central Podcast. Previously, Calla worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (hands down the best office building ever) and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. Calla studied physics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is originally from Sandy, Utah. In 2018, Calla left to join NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory media team where she oversees astronomy, physics, exoplanets and the Cold Atom Lab mission. She has been underground at three of the largest particle accelerators in the world and would really like to know what the heck dark matter is. Contact Calla via: E-Mail – Twitter