We’ve been waiting for so long. SpaceX has managed to keep anticipation for its Falcon Heavy debut high since first announcing it back in 2011.
Testing was delayed for years as engineers figured out what it would take to keep three Falcon-9 boosters—and their 27 Merlin engines—together and headed on the right trajectory when they at last ignited. We finally got a sneak peak of what that would look like when SpaceX put the Falcon Heavy through a dress rehearsal on Wednesday, firing up the engines for 12 seconds on the pad.
Billowing steam created a brief, massive cloud around the launch site. Just check out SpaceX’s footage of the test fire:
Of course, sitting on the launchpad for a quick test fire is a little different from actually launching (and then simultaneously landing three boosters at three different sites).
The real launch date and time remains TBD, but Elon Musk said on Twitter that it could happen in a week.
Falcon Heavy hold-down firing this morning was good. Generated quite a thunderhead of steam. Launching in a week or so. pic.twitter.com/npaqatbNir— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 24, 2018
When it does take off, the Falcon Heavy will carry the hopes and dreams of everyone who has worked on the project. Oh, and Musk’s red Tesla roadster, supposedly with a copy of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy in the glove box, along with a towel and a sign saying “Don’t Panic.” Also, it will be playing “Space Oddity”.
There’s every chance that the launch could still go horribly wrong. But a successful static fire is at least a step in the right direction.