SpaceX has successfully test fired its Falcon Heavy rocket – but this is just the prelude to the big show. The static test fire performed today is a necessary step prior to an actual test launch, firing up all 27 of the rocket’s big Merlin engines prior to trying to do the same but actually following through with a proper take-off.
The test fire, completed at the SpaceX Cape Canaveral launch facility from which Falcon Heavy will make its first voyage, occurred early Wednesday afternoon, and SpaceX signalled following the test that all went well. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk then revealed that because of the good firing of the engines, it’s now on track for launch within the next “week or so.”
That’s great news, because the test launch was already postponed from late last year, and then it looked like it might be even more delayed owing to the government shutdown, which affected SpaceX’s ability to launch from Cape Canaveral. The shutdown has been suspended, at least temporarily, and that means it’s now time to get back to launch activities – including the inaugural flight of SpaceX’s really big rocket.
With Falcon Heavy, SpaceX hopes to be able to launch heavier payloads, servicing more clients and potentially rolling multiple missions together for more economical operation. Falcon Heavy has nearly three times the load capacity of the Falcon 9, and is a crucial component in SpaceX’s plan to eventually fly crewed operations and make it to Mars.