On Tuesday, Feb. 6th at 3:45 PM ET, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch made history, not only becoming the highest-capacity rocket platform but implementing the first double autonomous booster landing successfully.
Falcon Heavy generated more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff. Preceding the Saturn V rocket, last flown in 1973, produced more payload to orbit. But what if SpaceX’s ‘Falcon’ accomplishment may just be a prologue to the main event—if Elon Musk’s ambitious timeline doesn’t gets delayed or interupted, we will be able to see three more events by the end of 2018.
After the successful launching of Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster and Starman from SpaceX’s first Falcon Heavy rocket.
In a press conference, Elon mentioned that:
- Block 5[the next revision of the platform] is all qualified for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy and they’re putting all their R&D focus on Dragon 2.0 (crew capsule).
- Manned mission by the end of this year.
- BFR grasshopper tests will start next year.
From three major events—Two of them likely to occur in the summers and one at the end of the year.
First there’s the next Falcon Heavy launch, which would most probably take place in June with a handful of satellites (military&private). Some of them are—beefy communications satellite called Arabsat 6A and Space Test Program 2 for the U.S. Air Force, LightSail 2 solar sail for The Planetary Society and some other private sector satellites.
May end up making records —
- heaviest commercial payload ever,
- and if things go well it might even get that triple autonomous booster landing that got failed on Tuesday.
Former Isro chairman K Kasturirangan, said: “The Space X achievement is a gigantic step towards the future of space transportation which will some day take us to different parts of the solar system.” He also stated that, like SpaceX, Isro, too, has been working on reusable technology for quite some years to reduce mission costs.
Musk also hinted in the press conference that SpaceX may attempt the first water landing of its fairing.
“We can expect the next launch of the Falcon Heavy in next six months, he said. Drone ship landing is not a guided landing and the fairing tends to drift on its way down.
My guess is, that in next six months we’ll figure out fairing recovery. We have a special boat to catch the fairing; it’s like a giant catcher’s mitt in boat form.”
“I think we might be able to do something similar for Dragon,” he added(amused).
SpaceX plans to launch astronauts on its Dragon Capsule by the end of the year.
Musk said at the press conference that “We’re making great progress on Crew Dragon. We’re aspiring to fly crews to orbit at the end of this year. I think the hardware will be ready.”
In fact, the spacesuit worn by SpaceX’s Starman on the Falcon Heavy flight is the same one astronauts will wear on Dragon, he added.
Musk seemed to be confident that they would be ready for a crewed Dragon orbit by the end of the year.
And finally, there’s the BFR: the ship Musk wants to use in space colonisation.
BFR(Big Falcon Rocket) is a combined rocket and spaceship which will stand 348 feet (106 meters) and will be able deliver more payload to low Earth orbit (LEO), making the BFR more powerful than NASA’s Saturn V moon rocket.
Therefore, Falcon Heavy may be the most powerful rocket in operation today, but it would take more than one to match the Saturn V, Musk said.
That spaceship could be ready for short demonstration hops in 2019, Musk said. Those hops would be much like SpaceX’s prototype Grasshopper tests that led to the reusable Falcon 9 first-stage boosters the company relies on today.
For now, the company is intending to keep launching new stuffs into space and inhance the potential and cost of its rockets to make the idea of space colonisation just a little bit more realistic.