…but first SpaceX needs to go through the motions of testing the engines. 27 of them, at once. You know, details. When SpaceX finally launches this end of January 2018, humanity will once again have a super powerful launcher capable of lifting entire space stations (but also large telescopes or solar power stations) in one single launch. The picture shows a young falcon sitting impatiently on its launch pad 39 A at Cape Canaveral in Florida (the same pad where the crewed Apollo missions to the moon took off) and is eager to take off from its perch.
FH delivers 63 metric tons to LEO or 16 metric tons to Mars (or the Moon), triple the current standard launch for a mere USD 100 million. In the Space launch business that is a bargain undercutting the competition with a large margin and enough capability to make any budding space entrepreneur salivate with excitement. For the first mission, Elon Musk is launching the 2009 version of his Electric Tesla sports car, in an orbit that will cross the orbit of Mars at a safe distance. While the voyager missions of the seventies carried a golden record with the sounds of Earth into space, Elon is sending aliens a beautiful car radio that can play “live” Earth music.. and which also has the wheels to cruise around the solar system back yard. Progress.
But even with this massive payload, SpaceX is only putting half of the weight of the venerable and famous 1970’ies Saturn V moon rocket into orbit. Later, in a couple of years, when the NASA SLS makes its debut (provisionally scheduled for december 2019), we will have the first system that, evolving to a 130 metric ton capability, will eventually outperform the Saturn V. China and SpaceX are currently designing and building their own fully funded alternatives to NASA’s SLS.
We can hardly wait to join the race, with our reusable European alternative.
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