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The Falcon Heavy has flown before, but now it’s got a payload that matters and competitors nipping at its heels. It’s the first of a new generation of launch vehicles that can take huge payloads to space cheaply and frequently, opening up a new frontier in the space race. Watch it lift off Sunday afternoon (we’ll post a reminder).
On the 7th, Falcon Heavy will fly for the first time since its inaugural test last February, delivering the now-infamous Tesla Roadster and “Starman” into a trajectory that has taken them past Mars. That successful launch garnered SpaceX its first customer for the system, and Sunday’s launch will take Arabsat-6A, a Lockheed-built communications satellite, into geosynchronous orbit.
Fire - Today - Takeoff - SpaceX - CEO
A static fire today went well, so weather permitting takeoff should Notably, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk pointed out on Twitter that the Block 5 Falcon Heavy (that is to say, the production revision as opposed to the test version we saw) has 10 percent more thrust capacity than before, which also translates to a better safety margin if using less than its maximum.
So why exactly is Falcon Heavy important? After all, launch vehicles capable of putting a hundred a hundred tons of material into or beyond orbit have existed since Apollo. Simply speaking, the difference comes down to price.
Anything - Space - Payloads - Equations - Century
Putting anything into space is difficult enough. But heavier payloads get exponentially more difficult to lift: The equations we’ve known for a century or so governing how much lift is needed to get a certain amount of mass into orbit, and how much fuel is needed in turn to generate that lift, are clear on this.
As advances in materials and rocket engines have progressed, they have disproportionately benefited small and medium launch vehicles. Combined with the decreasing size of satellite payloads, this has created a new and promising...
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