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article imageElon Musk gives public tantalizing glimpse of Falcon Heavy rocket

By Karen Graham     Dec 21, 2017 in Technology
SpaceX founder Elon Musk unveiled a tantalizing first glimpse at his company's new megarocket — the Falcon Heavy — in an early morning Twitter post on Wednesday.
The Falcon Heavy rocket could be likened to a Falcon 9 on steroids, with its three Falcon 9 cores and 27 engines, Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful U.S. rocket since NASA's Saturn V moon rocket.
The photos posted by Musk show the rocket inside SpaceX's hangar at Pad 39A of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The only thing missing is the rocket's payload, however, Musk has said the Falcon Heavy will launch his own cherry-red Tesla Roadster into space, reports CTV News Canada.
SpaceX s Falcon Heavy rocket  as seen from above  in the hangar at Cape Canaveral.
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket, as seen from above, in the hangar at Cape Canaveral.
SpaceX
If all goes as planned in January, Musk's roadster will end up in a long, elliptical orbit around the sun, stretching as far out as the orbit of Mars, meeting all government requirements, of course. "I love the thought of a car drifting apparently endlessly through space and perhaps being discovered by an alien race millions of years in the future," Musk wrote in a Tweet earlier this month.
Chance of failure is no laughing matter
And while we don't know how serious Musk is about sending his car into space, one thing is very serious - The chance of the Falcon Heavy exploding during its maiden launch next month. At the 2017 International Space Station Research and Development (ISSR&D) conference in Washington, D.C. in July, Musk said there was a "real good chance" this could happen.
First static fire test of a Falcon Heavy center core completed at The SpaceX McGregor  TX rocket dev...
First static fire test of a Falcon Heavy center core completed at The SpaceX McGregor, TX rocket development facility on May 9, 2017.
SpaceX
"I hope it makes it far enough away from the pad that it does not cause pad damage. I would consider even that a win, to be honest," Musk told NASA ISS program manager Kirk Shireman, who interviewed the SpaceX CEO onstage at the meeting. "Major pucker factor, really; that's, like, the only way to describe it."
The Falcon Heavy's 7 engines will be test-fired at the launch pad sometime before the end of this year, with the launch is planned for a few weeks after the test. The company test-fired the Falcon Heavy's core stage for the first time earlier this year, in May.
SpaceX s Falcon Heavy rocket  as seen from above  in the hangar at Cape Canaveral.
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket, as seen from above, in the hangar at Cape Canaveral.
SpaceX
Falcon Heavy rocket
The Falcon Heavy is a heavy-lift launch vehicle powered by three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores whose 27 Merlin engines together generate more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, equal to about eighteen 747 aircraft. The central core booster is a modified Falcon 9 with its own Merlin engines. When finished the Falcon Heavy stands 230 feet (70 meters) tall.
This second stage engine delivers the rocket’s payload to orbit after the main engines cut off and the first-stage cores separate. The engine can be restarted multiple times to place payloads into a variety of orbits including low Earth, geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) and geosynchronous orbit (GSO).
And like all Falcon 9 rockets, the Falcon Heavy's three core boosters are built to fly back to Earth and land, making them reusable. The Falcon Heavy has been designed to carry twice as much payload as the current record-holder, the Delta IV Heavy built by United Launch Alliance.
More about Spacex, falcon heavy rocket, maiden voyage, falcon 9 variation, Tesla Roadster