The first launch of Falcon Heavy is finally knocking on the door! According to yesterday’s tweet by Chris Gebhardt (@ChrisG_NSF) of NASASpaceflight.com, the Tesla rocket will have its inaugural launch on February 6 “with a backup on the 7th.” Chris, with the hashtag #ItsHappening, gave the launch time as 13:30-16:30 EST or 18:30-21:30 UTC.
He tweeted again with a screenshot of the first tweet: “It is the plan right now, but it is subject to change as all launch dates are.” This second tweet further mentioned that February 6 is the NET date or No Earlier Than date! He finished reminding us about the Falcon 9 launch that is required to happen before Falcon Heavies.
The excitement was enough expressed in Chris’ retweet of the announcement, suggesting that this is finally real! The retweet reads: “Subject to change and SpaceX officially saying it, of course.” However, it is now confirmed by Elon Musk about the Falcon Heavy maiden launch. Falcon Heavy will target February 6 and the backup date on February 7 – is 13:30-16:30 EST (18:30-21:30 UTC).
Before this announcement, there was a static fire test of the Falcon Heavy, a memorandum of which was ‘captured in person’ by Tom Cross, the Teslarati photographer.
The test had 10 seconds spent at full thrust to protect the launch pad from the rocket’s mass power, although the data gathered was satisfactory. Only certain mandatory tests of the rocket and the pad systems remain to ensure they are working as expected after certain months of inactivity.
According to experts, 92% of the thrust would be enough for the first launch. 27 Merlin 1D engines of the first stage can produce power that equals the same to twenty 747 passenger jets taking off. Given that, it is safe to consider that the LC-39A launch pad had handled the pressures of Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches beforehand. Both these rockets were more powerful than Falcon Heavy.
The static fire was extended to ensure that the rocket can safely and precisely ignite all 27 engines. It is also believed that SpaceX carried out a staggered ignition for about 2 seconds. Musk’s tweet read: “Falcon Heavy hold-down firing this morning was good.”
After the first launch of Falcon Heavy carrying the Tesla Roadster payload, there will be three stage-booster rockets landing almost simultaneously, two by land and one by sea.
Dear Tesla fans, stay awake following this space for our coverage on the next update on this!