The private spaceflight company SpaceX has just announced a brand new, and gigantic, rocket. The Falcon Heavy will be 22 stories high, and have a cargo capacity of 117,000 pounds. The company has already arranged deals with NASA for resupplying the International Space Station with its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule. The Falcon Heavy, though, is intended for launching huge payloads into orbit for both government and commercial concerns. And this rocket will be able to do it cheaper than anyone else, by far.
The Falcon Heavy has 27 engines, a 227 foot booster, and will dwarf anything SpaceX’s competitors have come up with. The closest competition is United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV, which has a 50,000-pound capacity and launches heavy payloads for the Pentagon for up to $275 million per launch. In contrast, the Falcon Heavy will be able to launch over twice that capacity for just $80-125 million. According to Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, that is a new world record for cost per pound to orbit.
This will be the first time since the NASA’s Saturn V that we will see something this powerful launched. And as long as costs don’t spiral out of control by the time the Falcon Heavy is ready do do business, this will give companies a lower cost of entry into Earth orbit…so there can be even more junk up there above us. SpaceX will launch the Falcon Heavy in a demo flight from California’s Vandenberg AFB by end of next year. It will be a sight to see.