SpaceX founder Elon Musk says that the Falcon Heavy, the launch vehicle being billed as the most powerful rocket in the world, will be ready for its first launch on February 6.
The Falcon Heavy is the rocket Musk says will eventually carry humans to Mars for SpaceX’s dubiously safe human habitation project. Per CNN Money, the only more powerful rocket developed by humans was NASA’s Saturn V model, which was retired in the 1970s and was capable of lifting roughly two and a half times as much mass as its new competitor – though the Falcon Heavy’s three first-stage boosters are designed to be reusable, which is arguably a much more impressive technical achievement.
Aiming for first flight of Falcon Heavy on Feb 6 from Apollo launchpad 39A at Cape Kennedy. Easy viewing from the public causeway.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 27, 2018
The first flight will carry a dummy payload, though Musk has joked about using the rocket to carry a Tesla Roadster into space (which might actually be the case, judging from pre-release photos of the car sitting in the Falcon Heavy’s payload chamber). According to CNN, the Falcon Heavy is already contracted to carry telecommunications satellites for Arabsat, Inmarsat, and Viasat, as well as a payload named STP-2 for the U.S. Air Force and one space tourist run around the moon.
Musk has previously conceded that the launch is not a sure shot, though, and if anything goes wrong all of those projects could be delayed. Per the Verge, the Falcon Heavy was originally supposed to be ready by 2013 or 2014, and SpaceX has a long history of experimental rockets exploding on the launch pad, mid-air, or touching back down – pretty much every stage of the process.