SpaceX pushes rocket launch back to Sunday


SpaceX is now planning to attempt the first launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket around the end of this month, the company's chief executive said January 4.

According to Musk, the Falcon Heavy, with 2,500 tons of thrust, will fly at speeds "equal to 18 Boeing 747 aircraft at full throttle". Then, on Instagram, Musk said a hold-down test fire for the rocket was happening next week, with plans to launch by the end of the month. 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.

SpaceX Falcon Heavy
SpaceX shows off its Falcon Heavy rocket vertical on the launchpad

SpaceX also announced the delay of its mysterious Zuma mission - the fourth such delay to occur over the past year.

Musk also revealed that the rocket would carry out a test fire next week with a full launch at the end of the month. Although SpaceX announced that it would launch Zuma on 5 January, the mission appears to have hit another snag. The decision was made with an eye on the extreme cold weather and storm Grayson affecting the East Coast, and the company said the weather slowed down its operations too. Musk himself has previously indicated that there is a chance that the launch may not be successful. It was originally set for launch in mid-November, and has now been delayed four times. Falcon Heavy draws upon the proven heritage and reliability of Falcon 9. "Excitement on launch day guaranteed, one way or another", he wrote.

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