SpaceX Falcon Heavy towers over historic Apollo launchpad


SpaceX has ironed out all the wrinkles with its Falcon 9 launches, but it's about to try something new and potentially insane.

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, took to social media Thursday to share posts of the company's rocket going vertical and an update on when it's expected to be launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Back in 2014, SpaceX has already leased the facility of the next 20 years.

As with the Falcon 9, the first stage of the rocket will return to Earth. SpaceX carried out a similar launch for the company earlier this year.

According to SpaceX, the beastly power of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy consists of 27 first-stage Merlin engines, which givse it three times as many engines as the company's Falcon 9 rocket, which is a class that delivers Dragon cargo to the International Space Station.

More news: 'SWATing' Prank Call Led to Officer-Involved Shooting, Police Say

You can also see the structural components holding the trio of boosters together in the new video.

In September, the US Air Force's X-37B program launched a secret robotic mini-shuttle via a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Approximately 30 seconds before Falcon 9's usual main engine cut-off (MECO) point, Falcon Heavy's twin side boosters will separate from the center core (essentially a complete Falcon 9) with the help of some form of mechanical actuators created to gently push those boosters away from the center. Inside that cone-shaped faring rests Elon Musk's personal Tesla Roadster. However, the sort of single-use separation motors would run counter to SpaceX's primary pursuit of completely reusable rockets.

Musk has been a little vague about the rocket's destination, perhaps intentionally. The images aim at showing the progress SpaceX has made at getting the rocket to its first test and illustrate just how big it really is. What SpaceX is probably planning is an Earth-Mars elliptical orbit around the sun, sometimes called a Hohmann transfer orbit.