When it comes to the Space X program, Elon Musk can’t help but boast about the system’s capabilities. This time around the fearless leader of the SpaceX program is crowing about the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, both of which are turning out to be stronger than initially projected.
According to updated specs recently posted on the Space X website, the Falcon 9 rocket is capable of carrying up to 50,265 pounds to a low earth orbit. This is a significant jump from the 29,000 pounds previously referenced for the space vehicle. The Falcon Heavy, which Musk describes as a beast, is capable of hauling 119,930 pounds (54 metric tons) up from the previously projected 116,845 pounds. Musk confirmed on Twitter that these values were obtained through more careful testing of the spacecraft and did not involve changes to the hardware of the systems.
Hauling capacity isn’t the only parameter receiving a boost. According to Musk, the company also plans to increase the rate liftoff thrust of both the Falcon 9 and the Falcon Heavy. If all goes as planned, the Falcon 9’s liftoff thrust will be increased later this year to 1.71 million pounds up from the current 1.3 million. The Falcon Heavy already measured a slight boost in thrust following testing, increasing from 5.1 million pounds on liftoff from the previously estimated 4.5 million.
To put that value into perspective, the thrust of a single Falcon Heavy is equal to the combined thrust of eighteen 747 aircraft operating at full thrust. Moreover, this value is twice the thrust of any other rocket currently being used, making the Falcon Heavy the world’s most powerful rocket.
Musk hopes to improve its rocket technology in the coming years as it plans for a 2018 trip to Mars. The company previously targeted 2022 for it first Mars landing but recently moved up that date by a few years. This first Mars trip will see the transport and landing of an unmanned Dragon capsule with future Red Dragon launches bringing people, instrumentation, and more to the red planet.