Before the Falcon Heavy has flown but now it’s got a payload that matter. The first of a new generation of launch vehicles having a quality of taking huge payloads to space cheaply and frequently, Opening new challenges to the space race. Get ready to watch its lift over on Sunday afternoon.
The inaugural test of the Falcon was in February. On the 7th, Falcon Heavy will fly for the first time, delivering the now-infamous Tesla Roadster and “Starman” into a trajectory that has taken them past Mars. That successful launch gathered the first customer for the system for SpaceX, and Sunday’s launch will take Arabsat-6A, a Lockheed-built communications satellite, into geosynchronous orbit.
So here the question arises, why this falcon heavy is gaining much importance and attention? After all, a hundred tons of material are put into launch vehicles, or beyond orbit have existed since Apollo. The difference simply comes down to price.
It is difficult enough to put anything in the space. But it is exponentially more difficult to lift the heavier payloads. As advancements in materials and rocket engines have progressed, they have benefited small and medium launch vehicles. Combined with small size satellite payloads, a new and promising era for small craft is created.
The process has begun of pushing the price of small and medium-size launches down to a fraction after efficiently made disposables like Rocket Lab’s Electron and reusable ones like the Falcon 9 have come. But heavy and super-heavy launch vehicles have remained phenomenally expensive. So, putting 10 tons in orbit has gotten cheap enough that startups can also do it, but the province of global superpowers can putt there 100 tons only.
But now Falcon heavy is cutting the cost of putting large payloads up by a huge amount. And thus where an estimated price tag of around $100 million per launch is too much, it’s a whole lot less than the $350-$500 million a Delta IV might cost.
An entire space program can be transformed by that level of savings.