Falcon Heavy completes static test fire - SpaceX closer to launch

Aboard the flight will be a whimsical cross-promotional payload for Musk — a cherry red Roadster built by his other business Tesla

There was some concern over the weekend that SpaceX would need to postpone its Falcon Heavy test program because of the United States government shutdown, but the company got back on track very quickly after the budget impasse was (temporarily) solved early this week.

If all goes according to plan, the Falcon Heavy will lift off and enter Earth's orbit, before two of its booster rockets separate off and return to Earth at Cape Canaveral in controlled landings.

This week's government shutdown could possibly push back the Heavy launch even further.

Its first active missions are expected to focus on satellites and other space equipment.

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The SpaceX CEO said: "The payload will be my midnight cherry Tesla Roadster playing Space Oddity". The 3.6-ton probe, slated to launch as early as 2022, would conduct flybys of Jupiter's intriguing frozen moon to map its icy crust and subsurface ocean.

SpaceX does not have a test stand at its Central Texas development site to support such a high-thrust firing.

The Falcon Heavy "megarocket" will fire beyond orbit from the former Apollo 11 moon rocket launchpad at the Kennedy Space Centre near Cape Canaveral, Florida. A crackling rumble has been sent across the marshy space station and the heavy rocket moved a step forward to the often delaying first flight by next week.

Astronomers are also thinking about what heavy lift can do for them. The California-based company also launched the NROL-76 satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office in May 2017 and the Air Force's robotic X-37B space plane in September of that year.

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SpaceX successfully launched 18 Falcon 9 rockets a year ago, a remarkable recovery from a launchpad mishap in September 2016 that destroyed a rocket and the $200 million satellite on top. "If we don't have to fight for mass, the testing is greatly simplified and you can launch more ambitious systems".

SpaceX is about to light a very big candle. Despite being a private company, SpaceX still has to adhere to certain government regulations. The competition could lower prices for researchers, says Phil Larson, an aerospace expert at the University of Colorado in Boulder and a former communications director at SpaceX.

"This is going to be the most powerful rocket in the world", Harwood said.

An artist's illustration of the Falcon Heavy rocket.

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