After years of impatient waiting, it's finally time! The Falcon Heavy, SpaceX's newest rocket and the largest rocket to fly since the Apollo missions, will have its first test flight. This rocket is basically three Falcon 9 rockets strapped together. Three minutes into the launch, the side boosters will break away, turn around, and attempt separate landings back at the launch site. A little later, the center booster will separate and attempt its own landing at sea, while the second stage and payload continue on into deep space. If successful, it will be the first time ever that a private company has launched something past Earth orbit.
Because any time a rocket flies for the first time it's very risky, there is no real payload for this flight. Instead, there is a "mass simulator", i.e. something heavy but not expensive or useful. Rather than a boring old block of concrete like normal, SpaceX will be launching Elon Musk's personal cherry red Tesla Roadster, which will be playing David Bowie's Space Oddity on the stereo during launch. How awesome is that?
- Rocket: SpaceX Falcon Heavy
- Payload: "Payload will be my midnight cherry Tesla Roadster playing Space Oddity. Destination is Mars orbit. Will be in deep space for a billion years or so if it doesn’t blow up on ascent." -Elon Musk
- Destination: Heliocentric orbit, intersecting Mars orbit
- Launch site: SLC-39A, Cape Canaveral, FL
- Booster previous flight count: Side cores flown once each (Thaicom-8 and CRS-9), center core new
- Landing attempts: YES. Side boosters at LZ-1 and LZ-2, core on drone ship Of Course I Still Love You
- Launch window: Tuesday, February 6th, between 13:30 and 16:30 EST. Backup launch window the next day.