SpaceX sets historic first Falcon Heavy launch for February 6

Video of the week: Falcon Heavy makes push for space

- SpaceX is targeting February 6 for the test flight of the Falcon Heavy rocket that will rumble across the Space Coast as the most powerful launch vehicle of today, Elon Musk announced on social media Saturday.

Musk tweeted out the flight is aimed for February 6 from Apollo launchpad 39A at Cape Kennedy.

Musk has repeatedly warned there's a good chance the new rocket could blow up, thus his own personal property will be aboard. It is likely that the main objective of Falcon Heavy's extended static fire was to ensure that SpaceX had developed a safe and functional method of igniting all 27 engines without damaging itself, a real risk from the torque of each engine's turbopump operating in the same orientation.

As with all SES missions with SpaceX since SES-10 in March 2017, the launch of SES-16 will use a flight-proven Falcon 9 booster, specifically B1032 which previously launched the NROL-76 classified mission for the National Reconnaissance Office in May previous year.

The Feb. 6 date could shift, as SpaceX also has a Falcon 9 launch on January 30 for Luxemburg satellite manufacture SES on neighboring Cape Canaveral Air Force Space Launch Complex 40.

While SES-16's weight compared to other SES satellites would likely allow SpaceX to recover the booster on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship, SpaceX will likely use the expendable nature of this booster to test landing and atmospheric entry techniques while ditching the booster in the Atlantic in an effort to clear out the Block 3 Falcon 9 stock in favor of the now operational Block 4s and soon-to-be-operational Block 5s. "Easy viewing from the public causeway".

The solidification of Falcon Heavy's first true launch date has unsurprisingly proceeded only after the massive rocket's first static fire, a momentous moment captured in person by Teslarati photographer Tom Cross.

The company unveiled the Falcon Heavy rocket in December. The long-anticipated test flight will carry up a Tesla Roadster belonging to Elon Musk, who heads both the rocket and electric vehicle companies.

If all goes as planned, Musk's Roadster will wind up in a long, elliptical orbit around the sun, stretching as far out as the orbit of Mars.

Packing the potential for 5.1 million pounds of liftoff thrust, the 230-foot-tall Falcon Heavy will rank as America's most powerful launch vehicle since the space shuttle - which achieved 7 million pounds of thrust at launch, thanks in large part to its solid-rocket boosters. Musk hopes to use the Falcon Heavy to send tourists around the Moon, and to send supplies to Mars for a manned mission. Two of the Heavy's three first-stage boosters have flown before.

SpaceX also has a busy few weeks coming up, with its next Falcon 9 launch expected from Florida on, potentially overlapping with Musk's declared timeline for the Falcon Heavy.

It's also important to take Musk's timeframe for launch with a grain of salt.

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