Boasting 27 engines, the Falcon Heavy will triple the lifting force of the Falcon 9 and will be the world’s most powerful rocket when it launches. It is intended to be the first-ever rocket to break the $1,000-per-pound-to-orbit barrier, less than a tenth as much as the Space Shuttle.
AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — An unused pad at the nation’s West Coast
launch complex is being retrofitted to send up the world’s most powerful
rocket maker Space Exploration Technologies is spending between $20
million and $30 million to renovate the site that will be home to its
Falcon Heavy, the largest rocket since the retired Saturn V that hurled
astronauts to the moon.
founder Elon Musk gathered with state and elected officials Wednesday
for a groundbreaking ceremony at the coastal base northwest of Los
launch pad, built in the 1960s and remodeled over the years, has not
been used since 2005, when a Titan 4 rocket last launched from there.
demolished existing structures around the pad and will begin work on a
massive hangar to store the Falcon Heavy, set to arrive at the base by
the end of next year. Its maiden launch is scheduled for 2013.
Hawthorne-based company will also refurbish its launch facility in Cape
Canaveral, Fla., so that the heavy-lift rocket could blast off from
already has a NASA contract to supply the International Space Station
with cargo using its smaller Falcon 9. Though the company has not yet
signed customers for the Falcon Heavy, it hopes that its presence at
Vandenberg will help it gain Air Force contracts.
battling to compete for the Air Force launch business,” Musk said the
day before the groundbreaking. “We’ve really made headway in every
market except the Air Force.”
Defense Department relies on United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of
Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co., to lift its spy satellites into
SpaceX, which takes the unusual step of publishing its launch prices, thinks it can do it more cheaply.
launch aboard the Falcon Heavy costs between $80 million and $125
million—one-third the cost of a Delta 4, according to SpaceX.
SOURCE: The Associated Press