When will SpaceX launch Falcon heavy? Elon Musk to send car to Mars | Science | News

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The South African billionaire has taken it upon himself to spice up the “boring” rocket test by fitting the payload with a cherry red Tesla Roadster – a “red car for the red planet”.

The unusual cargo will be delivered on board the new Falcon Heavy from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center with a pencilled in launch date of January 15.

Mr Musk has teased that he intends to place the Roadster into a billion-year orbit around the fourth planet from the Sun.

Under normal circumstances, SpaceX would deliver a boilerplate satellite, which is a dead hunk of metal simulating the size and weight of a normal satellite payload.

But Mr Musk intends to up the ante for the rocket’s maiden launch – all to the sound of David Bowie’s hit song Space Oddity.

The tech entrepreneur posted on Instagram: “Test flights of new rockets usually contain mass simulators in the form of concrete or steel blocks. That seemed extremely boring. 

“Of course, anything boring is terrible, especially companies, so we decided to send something unusual, something that made us feel. 

“The payload will be an original Tesla Roadster, playing Space Oddity, on a billion year elliptic Mars orbit.”

The main goal of the launch is to test the faring capabilities and ability to send cargo into orbit around Mars.

Once operational, SpaceX has boasted that the big cargo rocket will be the most powerful in the world.

The rocket manufacturer said: “When Falcon Heavy lifts off in 2018, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. 

“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.”

The Roadster delivery will draw all attention later this month, but on the sidelines of the launch, SpaceX will likely attempt to recover the Falcon Heavy’s first stage boosters.

SpaceX’s signature Falcon 9 is the world’s first rocket to launch into space and then successfully touch back down on Earth and the new rocket design could soon join these ranks.

The Falcon Heavy launch comes just over two weeks after .

Two US officials under the guise of anonymity said the spacecraft did not separate from its stage two boosters, and has likely disintegrated or fallen into the sea.

Defence contractor Northrop Grumman Corp, which hired SpaceX to carry out the Government contract, declined to comment on the outcome of the launch.

The company said: “We cannot comment on classified missions.”

Meanwhile a spokesman for SpaceX noted that the Falcon 9 “performed nominally”.

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