SpaceX released its first public image of the Falcon Heavy rocket that it hopes will ferry a crewed Red Dragon capsule to Mars in 2018.
The Wednesday reveal was made on Instagram by the very social-media friendly company. CEO Elon Musk routinely makes major announcements on his personal Twitter page.
The photo only shows the maroon-and-black Falcon Heavy logo on a white fuselage sitting on the production floor at its 1 Rocket Road headquarters in Hawthorne.
But it’s a testament that the company is moving full-speed ahead on its future plans despite the devastating Sept. 1 explosion that destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket and its payload on the launchpad. There are 70 missions worth about $10 billion awaiting launch into orbit by Falcon 9 once the Federal Aviation Administration approves a return to flight.
At more than 21 stories tall, the Falcon Heavy will be five stories taller than Falcon 9. And it will be able to carry a payload of 119,000 pounds — more than double what Falcon 9 can haul.
Eventually, Musk plans to carry people with the rocket booster to Mars to form a colony eventually. He plans to first launch the $90 million equipment next year.
The Falcon Heavy will compete with NASA’s Space Launch System to be the largest, heaviest-lifting rocket ever.
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