Science

SpaceX to kick off new year with government launch

SpaceX to kick off new year with government launch

The mission was first added to SpaceX's manifest in October, with an initial launch slated for mid-November. Since there's a chance the first launch will end catastrophically, SpaceX didn't want to use anything important as the payload.

SpaceX late on Tuesday tweeted several photos and videos showing the Falcon Heavy rocket sitting on the launchpad vertically, awaiting its ascent.

The Zuma launch itself will have a two-hour launch window for SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket to carry the payload. SpaceX leased the space from NASA several years ago.

The incredibly secretive launch will kick off SpaceX's year that, according to plans, should also include the test launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket.

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, took to social media Thursday to share posts of the company's rocket going vertical and an update on when it's expected to be launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Musk also revealed that the rocket would carry out a test fire next week with a full launch at the end of the month.

Musk has been a little vague about the rocket's destination, perhaps intentionally.

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At a total of 5 million pounds of thrust (22.8 kN), the rocket would be able to lift a fully-fueled 747 passenger jet into low Earth orbit (LEO) in an expendable configuration. In December, Musk announced the rocket would carry his own Tesla Roadster sports auto on a trajectory that would take it past the planet Mars.

He later said the auto was chosen as a "Red vehicle for a red planet". Unlike the Iridium-4 launch, Zuma will be flying thanks to the new Block 4 Falcon 9.

The mission marks SpaceX's most ambitious project to date.

It will be returned to the launch pad within next week before the fire test, and then the engines will be ignited.

In fact, the Falcon Heavy is basically three Falcon 9 rockets bound together.

The auto - which also features a removable glass roof - can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour (0 to 100 km/h) in 1.9 seconds and has a top speed over 250mph (400 kph).

"I hope it makes it far enough away from the pad that it does not cause pad damage". However, this month will see the launch of a secretive project that marries tech from both the private and public worlds of space exploration.


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