Monday, 23 May 2011
Private spaceship maker SpaceX announced plans on Tuesday April 5 2011 for a new heavy-lift rocket, a vehicle that would be the most powerful commercial rocket ever built and haul much heavier loads than the company's previous boosters.
The new unmanned rocket, called a Falcon Heavy, will be able to loft about three times the amount of mass carried by SpaceX's current Falcon 9 boosters on missions to low-Earth orbit.
"This is a rocket of truly huge scale," SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said during a press conference.
The new rocket will be able to..
carry about 117,000 pounds (53,000 kilograms) of cargo to orbit - about twice the payload-carrying capability of the space shuttle. The Falcon Heavy would launch more than twice as much weight as the Delta 4 heavy, currently the most powerful rocket in operation. Only NASA's Saturn 5 moon rocket, which last launched in 1973, could carry more cargo to orbit, SpaceX officials said.
Musk said the rocket should lower the launch cost of cargo to about $1,000 per pound, about one-tenth the cost per pound on NASA shuttle launches.
"Falcon Heavy sets a new world record for the cost per pound to orbit," Musk said. "That's a pretty huge leap in capability."
The price for a launch aboard the new Falcon Heavy is set for $100 million, compared to the $50 million price tag for a Falcon 9 liftoff, Musk said.
The first launch of the new heavy-lift rocket could come as early as 2013, Musk added.Read full article here