SpaceX's super sized Falcon Heavy rocket has a new launch date: spring 2016. That's according to remarks given by Lee Rosen, SpaceX's vice president of mission and launch operations, at a conference in Pasadena this week. Space News reports the executive as saying, "It’s going to be a great day when we launch [the Falcon Heavy], some time in the late April – early May timeframe."
We've been hearing about the Falcon Heavy for some time, but it has seen its share of delays. It will be the world's most powerful operational rocket, capable of launching 115,000 pounds (53,000 kg) into low-Earth orbit. In history, it only comes short of the Saturn V rocket (which powered Apollo missions to the moon) and the Soviet Energia rocket, both of which were significantly more powerful. SpaceX originally promised to launch the rocket for the first time in 2013. It was then pushed back to this year, but the project was put on ice following the failure of a Falcon 9 rocket on June 28th.
The Falcon Heavy is essentially comprised of three Falcon 9 rockets strapped together. SpaceX plans to recover the stage one rocket boosters by landing them back on Earth after launch — the process was spectacularly demonstrated in a video rendering earlier this year. The first launch in spring, if it actually happens on schedule, will merely be a demonstration. A second planned launch in September for the Air Force would bring some 37 satellites to space.
Correction: SpaceX and Elon Musk state that the Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket since Saturn V, but, based on potential payload delivered to orbit, the Soviet Energia was also more powerful. We've updated the article accordingly.