Rocket to the Red Planet

Popular Science - - AEROSPACE -

With 28 en­gines fir­ing to­gether in a co­or­di­nated, ca­cophonous sym­phony of rocket fuel, the Fal­con Heavy lifts off with 5 mil­lion pounds of force—more than any ship since the re­tired ’70s-era Saturn V—and twice the pay­load weight of any other mod­ern space­craft. Those thrusters equate to three space-cargo-haul­ing Fal­con 9 rock­ets and will tote tens of thou­sands of pounds of satel­lites, a so­lar sail­ing space­craft, and even­tu­ally two lu­nar tourists. The side boost­ers burn first and land back on Earth, while the cen­ter en­gine makes the fi­nal push out of the at­mos­phere. The more hard­ware SpaceX can re­cover, in­clud­ing that last stage, the cheaper (and cheaper) the flights be­come. Suc­cess in these early mis­sions will prove that this is the ship with the horse­power, re­li­a­bil­ity, and price point to shut­tle hu­mans to Mars.

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