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Debut of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket now planned early next year (spaceflightnow.com)
109 points by mpweiher on Nov 30, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 26 comments

There's still hope that they will make their first static test fire in December, though! This will be their first time lighting all 27 engines, so it could be very exciting.

A FH static fire can only be done on the pad: there is no test stand big enough to do it.

And by exciting, do you mean a high probability of a RUD?

I don't know about "high", but there's at least two new things happening that jump out:

* staggered start, the engines are started in pairs on the order of 100s milliseconds apart, so 13 chances for an unbalanced engine start

* vastly increased acoustic and vibration shock, I really wish I could hear the noise in person (from a long way away)

The Techcrunch article just references the Engadget article https://www.engadget.com/2017/11/30/spacex-falcon-heavy-laun...

And the Engadget article just references an aviation week article (paywalled) http://aviationweek.com/space/falcon-heavy-debut-slips-2018

There's a lot more (non paywalled) information here: https://spaceflightnow.com/2017/11/28/debut-of-spacexs-falco...

Ok, we've changed to that last link from https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/30/spacexs-first-falcon-heavy.... Thanks!

"At first it sounds real easy, you just stick two first stages on as strap-on boosters" --Musk

This made me laugh. I think it belongs on shitelonsays.com.

With enough struts, I could see it working. You might lose a few Kerbals in the process, but you know.

He's debuting the Falcon Heavy Roadster in a week.

Anyone don't think that two simultaneous touchdowns and a third later would be awesome ? I really like to see the vids of it!

It would seem that Elon's personal business model is an inversion of the "under-promise, over-deliver" dictum. I wonder when it will catch up to him.

When what you deliver is still fantastic, people will forgive you for the pie in the sky promises.

Sure, it's just hard to take any of his dates seriously when they're consistently wrong. I love the guy, but he tends to stretch himself a bit thin.

My theory is that the public date announcements are actually a bit of a perverse incentive to motivate his employees to work longer hours to meet the arbitrary date specified.

And himself. Sometimes you'd never start a project if you thought "it'll take me years".

I'm not sure it's that he's stretched thin or just that he never pads his estimates. When Elon Musk says he's going to deliver X in three months, the unspoken coda is always "assuming every bit of uncertainty falls my way". And of course, it never does in a nontrivial project. For anyone.

Win some, lose some. That's part of the game.


Falcon Heavy launch was always linked to the pad preparation as a gating factor. They tried hard to get it cleaned up after the explosion but didn't quite make it.

It's a bummer, but it was kinda expected. Let's hope we get to see it in Q1 2018!

The FCC license (or was it FAA?) expires mid January, so it's probable they'll still try to launch before then.

What's the ETA for their methane engine (Raptor)?

Raptor won't fly on the Falcon, so it depends on the arrival of the BFR. Elon wants that to be doing Mars missions in the 2022 window, so test flights would have to precede that by some time. Construction of the first BFR is due to start around Q2 next year; when it gets in the air is anybody's guess.

There is still a good chance they might do a FH Raptor-powered second stage :)

A higher-impulse second stage on the Heavy would make sense in payload terms, but have you seen anything from SpaceX indicating that they actually are thinking about doing this? My understanding of their design philosophy is that they prioritise the operational efficiencies of only having one type of engine and one type of propellant to worry about on the pad.

SpaceX's initial money from the Air Force for Raptor involved the possibility of a new Raptor-powered FH upper stage. There's no sign that such a stage is still planned (or was ever seriously considered, really.)

Huh, I'd forgotten about that -- thanks.

Yeah, I doubt it was seriously considered. Probably just didn't want to tell the Air Force what they were really planning to use the Raptor for. Can't say I blame them!

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