The space agency is about to launch the Falcon Heavy for the first time, and they have just received a license to do so.
SpaceX has done a lot of incredible things over the years, but their next daring feat could result in mankind one day setting foot on Mars. SpaceX just received a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration for its Falcon Heavy rocket, which it plans to send into space Feb. 6 while carrying a modified Tesla Roadster sports car.
The Falcon Heavy is a huge rocket, and will be the biggest ever launched into space by a “factor of two,” SpaceX claims. The test launch on Tuesday will be the rocket’s first, and leave it to eccentric founder Elon Musk to decide to simulate mass on the rocket by putting one of his own sports cars in it. That car will fly past Mars and into deep space, Musk says.
Falcon Heavy is large enough that it could one day carry a human colony to Mars, which has been a stated goal of Musk’s. SpaceX has been busy in recent years, launching Falcon 9 rockets and even landing them on launch pads or barges so they can be reused again.
“When Falcon Heavy lifts off in 2018, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two,” reads the SpaceX website. “With the ability to lift into orbit over 54 metric tons (119,000 lb)–a mass equivalent to a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel–Falcon Heavy can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost. Falcon Heavy draws upon the proven heritage and reliability of Falcon 9.”