Yesterday, Elon Musk said that SpaceX has planned for Falcon Heavy’s first launch by the end of January. He posted a video on Instagram featuring the rocket and wrote that there will be a static-fire test on the launch pad next week. His exact words are: “Hold-down test fire next week. Launch end of the month.”
The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will be launched from Launch Complex 39A of Kennedy Space Center.
The rocket has been rolled by the company, and it presently features three Falcon 9 first stages that are mounted sidewise. There is a second stage Falcon 9 as well, mounted on the top of the center booster. The entire process was completed on December 28 and it raised the rocket to a vertical angle to continue with fit checks. Then, it was lowered and positioned back to the hangar on the following day.
It will be returned to the launch pad within next week before the fire test, and then the engines will be ignited. Before the test, there will be a Falcon 9 launch that involves a classified payload with the codename Zuma from the Space Launch Complex 40.
Musk announced back in December that the rocket will carry his sports car Tesla Roadster and will orbit past Mars. The company also released photos of the Roadster installed in the payload fairing of Falcon Heavy.
Given that this mission comes off successful, the company has two more launches of the rocket planned to be executed within this year. The missions are of Space Test Program 2 for U.S. Air Force and of Arabsat 6A communications satellite.
Another plan announced by SpaceX is flying a Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying two people. It will be a circumlunar mission using a Falcon Heavy and is to be launched by this year-end. This was announced back in February 2017 and there has been no update so far on this since then.
Musk seemed a bit less enthusiastic regarding SpaceX Falcon Heavy debut, as he wrote in his Instagram post: “Excitement on launch day guaranteed, one way or another”.