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SpaceX to launch world’s most powerful operational rocket

With NASA’s Space Launch System rocket yet to fly, and SpaceX still prepping the maiden flight of its next-generation Super Heavy space vehicle, the company’s Falcon Heavy rocket remains the most powerful rocket in use today.

And it looks to be just days away from heading skyward on its fourth mission.

SpaceX is currently targeting Tuesday, November 1, for the launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission will deploy two classified satellites for the U.S. Space Force.

The Falcon Heavy comprises SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket as the core stage, along with two additional Falcon 9 boosters attached to each side of the core.

At liftoff, its 27 Merlin engines combine to create more than 5 million pounds of thrust, which SpaceX says is equal to around 18 Boeing 747 aircraft.

The Falcon Heavy took its first flight in 2018, deploying an unusual test payload — a Tesla Roadster owned by SpaceX and Tesla boss Elon Musk. The side boosters stuck the landing and therefore could be used again, but the core booster crashed when it reached the ground.

The second Falcon Heavy mission took place in April 2019 and deployed a rather more sensible payload — the Arabsat-6A communications satellite built by Lockheed Martin. The mission’s most notable moment was the successful landing of all three boosters, marking the first-ever successful triple landing for SpaceX.

The most recent Falcon Heavy mission was in June 2019 and was SpaceX’s first for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), carrying with it a wide-ranging payload for the DoD and other customers. Like the previous flight, the two side boosters landed safely but the core booster crash-landed.

In next week’s mission, the two side boosters will touch down at Landing Zone 1 and 2 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. However, no attempt will be made to land the core booster, which will instead come down into the ocean.

With so much power on display, the launch should be an exciting spectacle for those making the trip to the Space Coast or watching online. Once SpaceX confirms the launch date and time, we’ll be sure to update you.

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Trevor Mogg
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