SpaceX has sold a Falcon Heavy flightMay 30, 2012
SpaceX announced yesterday that they have sold a Falcon Heavy flight to Intelsat, for launch probably in the 2017 time frame.
The Falcon Heavy has not yet flown, but it is scheduled for a first test flight from Vandenberg AFB in California in mid-2013. It’s a big beast, coupling three Falcon 9 core stages together. When operational, it will be the most powerful launch vehicle in the world – at least until NASA’s semi-mythical SLS heavy lifter actually flies. assuming it does.
SpaceX is completing work on the Falcon Heavy on its own dime. No NASA money for this one! And…they estimate they can sell a flight for a third of what a United Launch Alliance Delta or Atlas would cost. Yep, a third…and for a far more powerful booster.
I have much reason for optimism in our future as a spacefaring nation. It mainly hangs on Elon Musk and his company right now, but that’s far more than we had even five years ago. Not only will there be an economical way to supply crew and supplies to the ISS, but Musk is taking the long view. The Falcon Heavy is key to his plans to go to Mars.
What’s even more reassuring is that Musk is not quite 41 years old yet. Imagine what the next two decades could be like!