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First flight of SpaceX Falcon Heavy moves to NET November 2016

Falcon Heavy rocket launch SpaceX image posted on SpaceFlight Insider

Artist’s depiction of Falcon Heavy rocket on ascent. Image Credit: SpaceX

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — The first flight of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch vehicle has been moved to no-earlier-than (NET) November 2016. The company’s newest rocket is slated to launch from historic Launch Complex 39A located at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

On her panel this week at Satellite 2016, SpaceX’s President and COO, Gwynne Shotwell, stated that the Falcon Heavy launch would be from 39A and could take place as early as November of this year. This is according to a source with the Hawthorne, California-based company.

The Falcon Heavy was scheduled to launch in 2015, that moved to 2016, with a possible launch in May and then September eyed.

This could be a very busy year for SpaceX, with as many as twelve flights possible between now and the close of the year. Already in 2016, SpaceX has conducted two launches from its facilities at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California (Jason-3 for NOAA) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida (the SES-9 communications satellite).

Launch Complex 39A is the site from which men first set forth for the Moon on Apollo 11 in July of 1969. To date, some 92 launches, composed of Saturn V rockets and Space Shuttles, have lifted off from the site.

In terms of the Falcon Heavy, the booster should allow SpaceX to ferry an estimated 116,845 lbs (53,000 kg) to orbit (as opposed to the approximately 28,991 lbs or 13,150 kg that the v1.1 version of the Falcon 9 was able to send to low-Earth orbit).

Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

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Reader Comments

Gary Warburton

I wonder what the holdup is?

I believe SpaceX recently decided to completely remove the Shuttle-era Rotating Support Structure (RSS) from LC-39A instead of just immobilizing it for now and removing it later. I’m guessing that, due to the six-month break in operations following CRS-7’s failure, there are now too many items on the SpaceX launch manifest to take LC-39A out of service, once it goes live, to conveniently allow removal of RSS to be kicked down the road. I think that a year ago SpaceX’s plan was for only one or possibly two missions to launch from LC-39A this year – the Falcon Heavy maiden flight and, maybe, the first unmanned orbital test of Crew Dragon. Those two items are still on their manifest and now there are a pair of SES comsat deployments slated to be the first two missions out of LC-39A as well. To do 18 total missions this year, it would benefit SpaceX to move missions from SLC-40 to LC-39A to remove some pressure from the crew at the former site.

Understand that this is all speculation on my part based on previous announcements from SpaceX in addition to Ms. Shotwell’s recent public remarks. That said, the various pieces all seem to fit.

It seems there are not ready at the launch site due to delays in construction

Could you use tthe falcon heavy to send colony supplies to the moon?

go space x joel, the answer is yes you could

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