SpaceX Maiden Falcon Heavy Rocket Goes Vertical at KSC for Crucial Static Fire Test: UpClose Gallery

Ken Kremer -- Space UpClose -- 9 Jan 2018

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – Blazing forward at breakneck speed, SpaceX workers rolled out and raised the company’s maiden Falcon Heavy rocket to vertical launch position at pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Monday, Jan. 8 less than 24 hours after launching the classified Zuma mystery intelligence satellite to an unknown fate and possible destruction.

The 23-story tall, triple core Falcon Heavy stack was moved to Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) to ready the mammoth rocket for a crucial test firing of all 27 first stage engines simultaneously for the very first time as soon as Thursday, Jan 9. Its just been delayed a day, possibly due to poor weather.

And Space UpClose got an outstanding UpClose view today, Tuesday, Jan. 9 of the fullyintegrated Falcon Heavy rocket and nose cone housing the Tesla Roadster payload standing erect on pad 39A - soon after it was raised and just a day prior to the first testing opportunity.

Check out our gallery of high resolution images of this magnificent looking rocket here, as seen from the Kennedy Space Center tour bus.

The engine tests usually last at least about 3 seconds in duration, but could last longer in this case since it’s a brand new rocket.

The rocket will be fueled with liquid oxygen and RP-1 propellants and the SpaceX engineering team will conduct a full launch dress rehearsal.

If all goes well the static hot fire test of the triple core rocket will clear one of the last significant hurdles to launching the Falcon Heavy “very soon” – perhaps as soon as next week according to statements from SpaceX CEO and billionaire founder Elon Muskand SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell.

The debut demonstration Falcon Heavy launch could take place “shortly thereafter”pending a successful outcome of the static fire test.

“Falcon Heavy has been rolled out to launchpad LC-39A for a static fire later this week, to be followed shortly thereafter by its maiden flight,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said ina statement today, Jan. 9.

“We are also preparing for an F9 launch for SES and the Luxembourg Government from SLC-40in three weeks.”

This is only the second time that the first Falcon Heavy has “gone vertical.”

The triple stick Falcon Heavy is comprised of a trio of Falcon 9 boosters - including a significantly modified central core, to deal with aerodynamic stresses, that is attached toa pair of side-mounted cores with newly developed nose cones mounted in place of payload fairings.

Billionaire CEO Elon Musk’s personal red Tesla sports car is the prime payload for the debut launch of SpaceX’s massive Falcon Heavy rocket in mid/late January – if all goes well. The Tesla will be hurled towards Mars orbit in a long looping heliocentric orbit around the sun.

The Falcon Heavy will take the title of world’s most powerful current rocket whenever it does fly.

“Max thrust at lift-off is 5.1 million pounds or 2300 metric tons. First mission will run at 92%,” Musk explained via tweet.

The 23 story tall Falcon Heavy weighs more than 3.1 million pounds (1.4 million kilograms).

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of SpaceX Zuma, Falcon Heavy, ULA and NASA and space mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.
First fully integrated SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket was raised vertical at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida – as seen up close on Jan. 9,2017. Nose cone housing Tesla Roadster payload is stenciled with Falcon Heavy logo. Debut liftoff slated for mid/late January 2018. Credit: Ken Kremer/SpaceUpClose.com
First fully integrated SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket was raised vertical at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida – as seen up close on Jan. 9,2017. Nose cone housing Tesla Roadster payload is stenciled with Falcon Heavy logo. Debut liftoff slated for mid/late January 2018. Credit: Ken Kremer/SpaceUpClose.com