After years of delays and missed deadlines, SpaceX is finally ready to send its Falcon Heavy rocket into orbit. According to a release, “the first test flight of Falcon Heavy is targeted for Tuesday, Feb. 6th at 1:30 PM ET from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.”
Luckily, unlike the static fire test that happened in late January, the Falcon Heavy’s maiden flight will be broadcast live on SpaceX’s website, and will be free to watch. We’ve embedded the video at the top of this page for your convenience.
If all goes according to plan, this launch will very likely be one of the most spectacular that SpaceX has ever completed. After blasting into orbit and delivering its payload (Elon Musk’s cherry red Tesla Roadster), “the Falcon Heavy’s two side cores will return to land at SpaceX’s Landing Zones 1 and 2 (LZ-1 & LZ-2) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Falcon Heavy’s center core will attempt to land on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.”
In other words, SpaceX intends to launch one big rocket, then immediately recover all three first stage boosters by landing them safely back on Earth. The Falcon Heavy is composed of three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores — all of which are capable of being recovered and reused. It’s one launch and three separate landings: Two on earth, then one on a giant floating landing pad.
Of course, this feat will be extremely difficult to execute, but if there’s any organization that can pull it off, it’s SpaceX. Over the past few years, the company has successfully launched and landed a number of Falcon 9 rockets, and even reused one that was recovered. However, even with SpaceX’s impressive track record for recovering first stage boosters, the Falcon Heavy’s maiden voyage is anything but a sure thing.
The only thing that’s certain is that, regardless of whether SpaceX is successful or not, the Falcon Heavy’s first launch will be thrilling to watch. We’ll be following it closely, and will update this post with new information as it becomes available, so be sure to check back for updates.