Elon Musk on how Falcon Heavy will change space travelSpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida yesterday carrying its first payload -- a red Tesla roadster -- into orbit. Loren Grush spoke to CEO Elon Musk about the launch and what this means for the future of space travel, as well as Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye. The Falcon Heavy now holds the title of the world’s most powerful rocket, and its launch marks the first time a vehicle this massive has ever been sent up by a commercial company.
When Falcon Heavy lifts off, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. With the ability to lift into orbit nearly 64 metric tons (141,000 lb)---a mass greater than a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel--Falcon Heavy can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost. Falcon Heavy draws upon the proven heritage and reliability of Falcon 9. Its first stage is composed of three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores whose 27 Merlin engines together generate more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft. Only the Saturn V moon rocket, last flown in 1973, delivered more payload to orbit. Falcon Heavy was designed from the outset to carry humans into space and restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars.