The first serious launch of the Falcon Heavy: a new era of space exploration with heavy rockets

Falcon Heavy have flown before, but now he wears a payload, and competitors are catching up. This is the first of a new generation of rockets that are inexpensive and often provide a great deal of valuable payloads into space, unlocking new milestone in the space race. April 9 at 6:36 PM, time EDT, the Falcon Heavy will have to take the Arabsat-6A in space. Why should anyone be surprised?

The first serious launch of the Falcon Heavy was moved from April 7 to April 9

On this day, the Falcon Heavy will be flying for the first time after the first test in February last year that brought the Tesla Roadster and “Starman” drive on the trajectory that led them beyond Mars. This successful launch of SpaceX brought its first client on this system, and following the launch will built by Lockheed communications satellite Arabsat-6A in geosynchronous orbit.

Preliminary static warm up was good, but the launch was postponed “to next week” — pre -, on 8-14 April. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk noted via Twitter that Block 5 Falcon Heavy (i.e. the production and not the test version that we saw) is 10% more thrust than before, which also leads to increased security.

Why this launch of the Falcon Heavy is so important? In the end, the rockets are capable of leading one hundred tons of material into orbit or beyond, existed since the days of Apollo. In short: the problem is the price issue.

To bring anything into space is difficult. But the greater the load, the harder it is to raise: the equations that we know for a century, determined that the greater the mass, the more fuel you need to create cravings, and bring this mass into orbit, and it’s all connected.

As you progress in the field of materials and rocket engines, a disproportionate benefit observed small and medium-sized rockets. In conjunction with reducing the size of satellites, all this resulted in an era of small devices that can be launched in large numbers — and so we see many promises to deploy a network of thousands of satellites.

Effective disposable, like Electron from Rocket Lab, and reusable rockets like the Falcon 9, launched the process of reducing the prices of small and medium-sized runs at times.

But the heavy and superheavy launch vehicles remained phenomenally expensive due to the fundamentally complex nature of creating these physically unruly monsters. Thus, if the output is 10 tons into orbit was cheap enough that startups are able to resort to it, output of 100 tons remained the preserve of the global superpowers.

Falcon Heavy — in fact, the first rocket, which is beginning to price a shift in this category, reducing the cost of running heavy loads at a high percentage. Andthe cost is still an impressive $ 100 million, this is much less of 350-500 million dollars for the launch of the Delta IV.

This level of economy can transform the entire space program. NASA may add to its budget a mission to study the planets due to the difference in price. Of course, the math is always harder than it looks, but a 3 – or 5-fold difference in the cost of running it is impossible to ignore.

The market of heavy launches, and small, severely limited. The state and large corporations are lining up in long queue to bring large loads into orbit or beyond. SpaceX will sell space on the Falcon Heavy once built, that is, as production. And because of its stages are reusable, the company will be able to do it faster than the others. This is a tremendous saving that will be great to contribute to the development of the global space community.

The Falcon Heavy is almost not competing on the field start loads above the 50-ton threshold, but below this field is getting crowded. ULA, Ariane Group, Russia and China, even Blue Origin is preparing a cheaper next-generation platform to participate in the new ecosystem.

At the moment, the Falcon Heavy is an anomaly, which all are welcome. Reducing the cost and complexity and far more ambitious project — an exciting prospect, and the closest launch heavyweight should confirm that the world is changing. And we are witnesses.