Falcon Heavy (Artist’s Rendering) | Image: SpaceX, CC0 (Public Domain)
How Elon Musk’s rocketry company SpaceX plans to keep the coming-soon Falcon Heavy cheap has been a matter of public record for some time: just like the single first-stage of the variations on the Falcon 9 rocket (the one that this Monday carried yet another Dragon full of cargo to the ISS) it’ll return them home for landing and reuse. But darn if it doesn’t look way cooler than I’d imagined. In a recently released video (below) SpaceX illustrates how the two Falcon 9 cores on the sides will burn out slightly sooner than the first, separate, then return to base and land simultaneously. Then, after a little more propulsion and second stage separation, the core of the central Falcon 9 (the Falcon Heavy is essentially just three Falcon 9s) will turn around and do the same.
Gizmodo is reporting that the company is now trying to secure land for two more landing pads near the first, because although they’ll start by trying to recover the first stages at sea (which they’ve gotten pretty good at, all things considered) they’ll eventually want to return them all to land, for what should prove to be a fantastic show for all present. Oh, and a cheaper ride, too.
Falcon Heavy should be ready for its first flight by the end of the year, and is scheduled for NET (No Earlier Than) November 2016.
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Richard Ford Burley is a human, writer, and doctoral candidate at Boston College, as well as an editor at Ledger, the first academic journal devoted to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In his spare time he writes about science, skepticism, feminism, and futurism here at This Week In Tomorrow.