back to article Clear November in your diary: SpaceX teases first Falcon Heavy liftoff

SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell has confirmed that the company's much-delayed Falcon Heavy rocket will blast off from Cape Canaveral in November. The Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful rocket on the planet, capable of lifting 53 metric tons of cargo into orbit and then landing back on Earth for reuse. The first flight had …

  1. et tu, brute?
    Pint

    November cleared...

    ...although I generally always clear my diary when a SpaceX launch is announced, even up to four times to see a launch called off up to the last second!

    -> Raising one to the engineers who make this happen!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Potential

    It delivers 53,000Kg to LEO!

    Five launches and you can go set up a moonbase. 20+ and we're talking Mars.

    1. Filthysock

      Re: Potential

      Mars missions will use their next gen rocket, which is much bigger.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Potential

        FS "Mars missions will use their next gen rocket, which is much bigger."

        The famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, designer of the house 'Falling (into the) Water', once designed The World's Tallest Building. He grabbed a sheet of paper, drew two converging lines, and scrawled "1 mile" beside the lines. And thus was designed The World's Tallest Building. A few years later, someone photocopied the page and added a zero, making it "10 mile" - thus stealing the title away from FLW.

        SpaceX next gen rocket really is big. It is simply huge. Because I broke into their drawing office and added zeroes to all the dimensions. It is really vast now.

        In case you haven't noticed yet, there's a problem with your use of the word is.

    2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Potential

      Falcon Heavy "53,000 kg to LEO!"

      SLS Block 1 70,000 kg to LEO.

      SLS Block 2 130,000 kg to LEO

      1960s Saturn V 140,000 kg to LEO

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Potential

        Falcon Heavy "53,000 kg to LEO!"

        SLS Block 1 70,000 kg to LEO.

        SLS Block 2 130,000 kg to LEO

        1960s Saturn V 140,000 kg to LEO

        While Space-X selfindulgent marketeering w*nk is understandable, can at least El-Reg do not repeat it.

        In addition to SLS and Saturn, Energia (in _MINIMAL_ config) could put 100,000kg to LEO. The maxium Vulcan config was not tested itself, but all of its components have flown - Zenits, boosters, core (as part of Energia M and Energia-Buran launches. Its capacity stands at 175 tons to LEO and _THAT_ is the biggest rocket ever designed by man. Compared to that Space-X Falkon-Heavy is still a minnow.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Potential

          Doesn't count unless it's real.

          Energia only flew twice - and succeeded once!

          SLS has never flown.

          Saturn V went rather well but cost way too much to attempt again.

          1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Potential

            Richard 12 "Doesn't count unless it's real."

            Number of times that the SpaceX 'Falcon (9) Heavy' has flown: NIL

            So, please explain yourself. Why did you fail to mention the SpaceX 'Falcon (9) Heavy' in your list of booster that have "never flown"? I know the answer, but I'd like you to admit it. Even if just to yourself.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Potential

              @JeffyPoooh The text of the article reads "The FH will be the most powerful". *Will* as in future tense. No-one is claiming that today FH is the most powerful rocket. What people are saying is if/when it successfully flies it will be the world's most powerful rocket [currently in operation]

              1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
                Pint

                Re: Potential

                "... if/when it successfully flies it will be the world's most powerful rocket [currently in operation]."

                Agreed. Provided its planned launch schedule doesn't slip, for those several minutes it will undoubtedly be the world's most powerful rocket "in operation". (This interpretation of 'in operation' is slightly more valid than what you were thinking.)

                In the history of rocketry, it's a Middleweight.

                Nice system. Just not really competing in the Big League. Which makes the claims ever so slightly annoying.

                1. jzl

                  Re: Potential

                  ... "Not really competing in the Big League"

                  Interesting. Which rockets are competing in that league then?

      2. phuzz Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Potential

        Don't forget the N1, 95,000 kg to LEO.

        Ok, they still had a couple of kinks to sort out in the design, but only little things, like, you know, not falling back onto the launchpad creating the largest non-nuclear explosion in history type issues...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Money for nothing ?

    "The fuel for a rocket launch costs about $1m and refurbishing a used rocket could cost up to $3m per unit"

    [...]

    "It was extraordinary how great it looked. In fact we didn't refurbish it at all."

    1. MD Rackham

      Re: Money for nothing ?

      They didn't refurbish anything before test firing the returned booster.

      For a paying customer, I'd expect that they'd at least run it through a car wash to get the soot off. Who wants their satellite launched on a dirty rocket?

      Also, the fact that the engines don't need any refurbishment (unlike, say, the Shuttle engines) doesn't mean there aren't other parts of the booster that might need some refurb.

      1. Adam Jarvis

        Re: Money for nothing ?

        Why change a working formula? My Car came back from VW cleaned inside and out, probably had an oil/filter change and a quick connect up to reset the servicing nagware. In the context of SpaceX, the profit margins seem similar.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Money for nothing ?

        The least amount of refurbishment needed the better. They still need to clean all of the fuel and oxidizer lines very thoroughly. If any hydrocarbon fuel (Kerosene in this case) gets in to the oxidizer lines it can cause an explosion on it's next use, so it makes good sense to run some IPA through the pipes and give it a good cleaning. There are also seals that should be replaced. The Shuttle was a complete nightmare and needed "rebuilding" rather than "refurbishment".

        It's hard to overbuild a rocket engine like you might on a car. Every kilo of dry weight is costly. Mass added to the engines will come at the expense of payload or fuel.

        1. Bill B

          Re: Money for nothing ?

          "it makes good sense to run some IPA through the pipes"

          This sounds like a complete waste of a good Indian Pale Ale.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Money for nothing ?

            >This sounds like a complete waste of a good Indian Pale Ale.

            Well, there's plenty of rubbish Indian Pale Ale on the market at the moment, so just use that!

  4. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    2 launches per month in 2017? That's a tall order. *tips hat spacehelmet*

  5. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Fun at mission control

    So this'll mean 3 booster stages coming in for landings, at the same time monitoring the second stage.

    That's going to be controlled chaos!

    1. Mikel

      Re: Fun at mission control

      The center booster is fuelled by the outer two until they are exhausted (shy enough to land of course) and then carries on with its own fuel. It uses a cross flow system. So only two boosters landing at a time. I am thinking Musk wants the central booster on orbit as a gas station, and a Mars booster. After that used up Falcons can fly fuel to orbit missions until they explode.

      The LOX and fuel tanks on these are 12 feet in diameter, so the empties would make fine crew habitat modules as well. Make mine LOX, as Kerosene smell doesn't come out.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

        Re: Fun at mission control

        Bagels & lox? Good idea to relaunch (hah!) the SpaceLab concept, though. I'll take the Kerosene section - if it's anything like MIR up there, after a few weeks you'll be glad to smell something as fresh as Kerosene.

      2. James Hughes 1

        Re: Fun at mission control @Mikel

        F9H won't be using crossfeed, at least in the beginning. All three cores will be landed.

  6. MachDiamond Silver badge

    A ways to wait.

    Elon's enterprises have always been very premature on announcements and way off on delivery. I would have much more confidence in a date two months away than one 8 months away. This IS rocket science (engineering, really) and it takes some time to do right.

    Only time will tell if they can get their cadence up to two launches per month. The Cape is pretty slow resetting the facility between launches. If they have launches that can fly from Vandenberg AFB, they may be in with a chance to meet their announced launch goal if no other issues crop up.

    Working up to a moon base would be great. Sending hardware to Mars keeps getting easier, but sending humans is still problematic from a physiology standpoint. The body doesn't like being weightless and we don't know how much G would mitigate the most serious issues.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: A ways to wait.

      How about close to 1 G, centrifuge for the habitat section - let's build something like the Discovery, but without HAL, obviously.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: A ways to wait.

        "but without HAL, obviously."

        HAL would have been fine without the conflicting instructions inserted by shadowy TLA agencies.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A ways to wait.

        I'm sorry, allthecoolshortnamesweretaken. I'm afraid I can't do that.

    2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: A ways to wait.

      "...we don't know how much G would mitigate the most serious issues."

      If humans are going to Mars and staying for a long time, then there's not much point providing much more than 38% of Earth's gravity (like Mars) on the outbound leg.

      If they're going to provide a spinning habitat on the way to Mars, then I doubt that the tensile strength of the arms would be a limiting factor. 1.0 g should be not significantly more challenging than lower values. At least compared to everything else that needs doing...

  7. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    3rd October

    If only Space-X could have aimed to get it ready for launch a few weeks earlier.

    A V2 launched from Peenemünde: on that day in 1942 was the first missile to reach outer space.

    http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,16276064,00.html

    Incidentally, the Bloodhound SSC team test fired their Falcon Hybrid Rocket motor on the 3rd of October 2012

    http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/2/2012/10/04/hybrid_test/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 3rd October

      "...Peenemünde....1942..."

      Cue Godwin's Law trigger in "Drei... Zwei... Eins..."

  8. x 7

    "A V2 launched from Peenemünde: on that day in 1942 was the first missile to reach outer space."

    I'm no expert, but I'd query that description of "outer" space for a suborbital missile

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Missed the Kármán Line by 20km

      Kármán Line is at 100 km. Likely the best definition of the batch.

      Wiki: "1942 when the third launch of the German A-4 rocket climbed to an altitude of about 80 km (50 mi)." Missed by 20 km.

      Now, if the Germans had put an American inside, and if they got him to 50 miles (80.5 km), then he'd eventually have been given his US Astronaut Wings.

      1. Kharkov
        Trollface

        Re: Missed the Kármán Line by 20km

        Given his Astronaut wings? Well, yeah, but after putting him in a V2 and firing him off they'd have needed to give him a change of underwear...

  9. Yugguy

    still rockets

    Space elevators please. Rockets are a culdesac no matter how you refine them

    1. Kharkov
      Headmaster

      Re: still rockets

      We'll have a lot infrastructure in orbit (and beyond) lifted there by rocket long before we figure out how to build a space elevator. I love elevators too but it's technology and a political decision-making process & a huge amount of money to be spent before we get a working space elevator.

      Quicker to start with rockets...

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: still rockets

      We'll need good rockets and lots of in-space manufacture and assembly experience to build an elevator.

      Even if we actually could manufacture the appropriate material, it'll take a lot of launches to get the factory on-orbit.

    3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: still rockets

      "Space elevators..."

      Suggestion: Make the magic carbon nanotube cable twice as long and loop it over pulleys at each end. Then you can use a trivially-simple electric motor at the bottom and skip all that laser beam / microwave beaming power up to the climber nonsense.

      1. Yugguy

        Re: still rockets

        I read Clarke's Fountains of Paradise at an early age and it really caught my imagination.

  10. seth553

    Do Brits use "calendar" & "diary" interchangeably? Or are you guys really gonna do a little introspective journaling on launch day?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      "Clear your diaries - we've just won a massive contract!" or "Make a note in your diary for the 27th June" are examples of how we often might use the term 'diary'. It also refers to a small pocket book that is divided into the days of the year.

      We don't refer to a 'pocket calender', and a calender is usually thought of as a desk or wall-mounted collection of paper leaves. Single-sheet posters, often around A2 size, with a roughly 1" square for each day of the year are often referred to as 'year planners'.

      We will also keep a journal - keep a diary - in a 'diary', too - usually a blank or lined book.

      Hope that helps.

    2. jzl

      What he said. In the UK, diaries are for scheduling, calendars are for hanging on the wall.

      Of course in another sense of the word, diaries are also for keeping a log of one's personal thoughts. If you had to design the English language, you'd never do it the way it is!

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