Serious rocket power is on view in a Florida SpaceX hangar.
On Tuesday (April 11), SpaceX showcased its Falcon Heavy rocket ahead of its scheduled April 18 launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida's Space Coast. (We will carry coverage of the launch live here at Space.com, via SpaceX.)
Images of the massive rocket shared by SpaceX on Twitter include a close-up of the 27 Merlin engines that will bring the booster into space, and a long shot of the trio of Falcon 9-derived cores near an open door.
The SpaceX Falcon Heavy is set to send a ViaSat-3 broadband communications satellite to orbit as the first of a three-part constellation. Also on board will be a small communications satellite called Arcturus, operated by California-based Astranis, according to the Kennedy Space Center's Visitor Center.
Falcon Heavy in the hangar at Launch Complex 39A pic.twitter.com/7la68mjfVDApril 11, 2023
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket, the world's most powerful booster, made its debut flight on Feb. 6, 2018. Famously, it carried a Tesla car and a mannequin (nicknamed "Starman") into space in front of live cameras.
There was a three-year gap between missions that ended in November 2022, caused primarily by customer delays in getting their payloads ready for liftoff. The latest Falcon Heavy mission, its fifth, lifted off in January 2023 and began a classified mission for the U.S. Space Force called USSF-67; a few other rideshare satellites also went to space during the flight.
The trio of Falcon Heavy first-stage boosters are designed to be reusable, but not all missions do so due to fuel requirements, among other parameters. On this mission, all three boosters will crash into the ocean, according to Everyday Astronaut.
The Falcon Heavy's first-stage Merlin engines create more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, according to its SpaceX specifications page. The rocket was the most powerful currently operating until NASA's Space Launch System carried the Artemis 1 moon mission aloft on Nov. 16, 2022.
Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of "Why Am I Taller?" (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book about space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.