SpaceX first announced its Falcon Heavy — a much larger rocket than its standard Falcon 9s — back in 2011, and after several years of delays the private space company has scheduled its first launch for November. With that day quickly approaching, CEO Elon Musk and co. have revealed that things are on track with the news that they’ve successfully completed testing on Falcon Heavy’s three first stage cores.
The testing has been taking place at SpaceX’s facility in McGregor, Texas, with the first static test taking place in May. The tests are an important step in preparing for the eventual launch, and the company showed a brief video of one of the cores’ test fire on Twitter. While it’s not as exciting as a real lift-off, it’s still an impressive show.
The Falcon Heavy is essentially three Falcon 9 rockets connected together, making it much larger than anything SpaceX has launched before. This larger rocket and its increased thrust will allow the company to launch a payload of up to 140,000 pounds into orbit, whereas a single Falcon 9 is only capable of delivering 50,000 pounds of cargo into space.
Just like the Falcon 9, however, the Heavy’s three first stage boosters are designed to be recovered after launch with a landing on Earth’s surface. With its larger payload capacity, the Falcon Heavy will be key in SpaceX’s plans to conduct launches to the Moon and Mars, much farther than the company’s deliveries to the International Space Station thus far.