After a long series of delays and unexpected setbacks, SpaceX successfully completed a static fire engine test for its Falcon Heavy rocket yesterday at Pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. At around 12:30 PM local time, the rocket’s massive engines roared to life, sending huge plumes of smoke into the air surrounding it, and sending spaceflight enthusiasts into a frenzy on social media.
This static fire test (in which the engines are fired but the rocket does not lift off), is a critical step toward the Falcon Heavy’s maiden launch — a much-anticipated event in which the rocket will — no joke — attempt to put SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s red Tesla Roadster into orbit around Mars. While SpaceX has not set a date for the full launch, a successful static fire test suggests it could happen very soon.
Here’s a Tweet showing what the test fire was like at the Kennedy Space Centre, which was much more impressive than the close up video above.
My raw video of the #SpaceX Falcon Heavy static-fire at Kennedy Space Center. Come for the cloud plumes, stay for the sound.
A French space reporter just yelled “It’s like the 4th of July!” pic.twitter.com/vJssukqgIz
— Robin Seemangal (@nova_road) 24 January 2018
The Falcon Heavy is a product of SpaceX’s reusable rocket program, designed as three Falcon 9 rockets together with a single upper stage. At 230-feet tall, the massive rocket is equipped with 27 Merlin engines, which are capable of generating 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff. This is equal to that of 18 Boeing 747s, according to SpaceX.
If the rocket’s Maiden voyage goes according to plan, it will likely be quite a spectacle. After sending its payload into orbit, the rocket’s boosters will detach, fall back to and (hopefully) land safely back on Earth — a feat that SpaceX has achieved multiple times in the past with its Falcon 9 rockets. The mission itself is far from a guaranteed success, however; Musk is aware that the launch may fail, and even if it succeeds, the rocket might never make it into orbit.
Source: Digital Trends