WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
- If you want to build a colony on Mars you need a big rocket to move a lot of stuff – it’s as simple as that
SpaceX’s massive new rocket, the Falcon Heavy, hasn’t taken flight yet, but when it does, it will be the most powerful rocket in the world – by a factor of two, and the company is banking on this to be the booster that takes people to Mars. On Wednesday SpaceX shared a photograph of the rocket, complete with snazzy logo, on Instagram.
“Heavy interstage being prepped at the rocket factory,” reads the caption, “when FH flies next year, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two.”
The Falcon Heavy’s will have a thrust of 5.1 million pounds force on liftoff, which dwarfs everything that’s come before it – and it will be able to transport 54 tonnes into space in a single journey for a third of the cost of the next biggest rocket.
“Only the Saturn V moon rocket, last flown in 1973, delivered more payload to orbit,” said the company’s representative.
The first launch of the rocket was supposed to take place in 2016, but was pushed back due to the explosion of a Falcon 9 in September. Now the first launch is expected to take place in early 2017 but it’s clear that not everybody has forgotten about the incident.
“Anyone else read ‘most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two’ as ‘Will be the biggest and coolest explosion you have ever seen’?” said one person on SpaceX’s Facebook post.