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Elon Musk offers glimpse of ‘world’s most powerful rocket’ ahead of November launch

Published Aug 7th, 2017 4:42PM EDT
spacex falcon heavy
Image: SpaceX

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SpaceX the most promising private spaceflight startup on the planet, with several high-profile launches under its belt and an impressive success rate when it comes to recovering its Falcon 9 rocket stages for repeated use. Now, CEO Elon Musk is ready to take the next step, and he’s teasing the upcoming launch of SpaceX’s newest rocket — dubbed the Falcon Heavy — which the company has boldly claimed is “the world’s most powerful rocket.”

The Falcon Heavy is slated to sail skyward in November, where it will take off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The flight will be a huge test for SpaceX, but Musk is doing his best to keep expectations in line with the complicated reality of launching a new rocket.

“Lot that can go wring in the November launch,” Musk noted in a video post on Instagram showing an animated Falcon Heavy taking flight.

What makes the Falcon Heavy’s maiden voyage such a challenge is the ambitious scope of the recovery and reuse of its components. Both of the rocket’s side boosters and the center portion will all return to Earth in the hopes of being reused at a later date, but first they have to land safely. The droneship will be positioned some 400 miles off the east coast of Florida, and the center booster will need to hit that target if it is to be recovered as planned.

“Sides run high thrust, center is lower thrust until sides separate and fly back,” Musk explained. “Center then throttles up, keeps burning and lands on droneship. If we’re lucky!”

While we wait for that exciting launch later this year, SpaceX still has some dates to fill in the meantime, including a launch on August 13th of the Falcon 9, which will carry supplies to the ISS.