spacex falcon heavy rocket test

Screengrab via SpaceX/Twitter

These are the engines SpaceX will use to get us to Mars

The 'world's most powerful rocket' is scheduled to reach the Red Planet by 2020.


Phillip Tracy


Published May 10, 2017   Updated May 24, 2021, 2:54 pm CDT

Elon Musk just took a big step closer to getting people up to Mars with the first engine test of his Falcon Heavy rocket. The massive spacecraft can be seen firing off its booster engine in a video SpaceX posted Tuesday to Twitter.

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What you are seeing are the rocket’s main cores doing a static fire test in a controlled environment. A section of the Falcon Heavy is strapped to the launch pad as flames and smoke billow out of its engines, which are capable of creating 5 million pounds of thrust. It may not look convincing, but the test was a success.

The video gives a glimmer of hope that the oft-delayed Falcon Heavy will finally launch later this summer as planned. The rocket is integral to Musk and SpaceX’s larger mission to make humans an interplanetary species. That’s because the Falcon Heavy, which is made of three Falcon 9 boosters strapped together, can carry more than 100,000 pounds—the equivalent of a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage, and fuel—up to lower orbit, and 37,000 pounds to Mars. SpaceX claims that is twice the amount of its closest competitor, the Delta IV Heavy.

Here is a comparison chart provided by SpaceX comparing the world’s top heavy lift vehicles.

spacex falcon heavy rocket comparison chart
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SpaceX plans to send two anonymous tourists to the moon on its Falcon Heavy rocket early next year, and hopes to reach the Red Planet by 2020. Its first launch is schedule for late summer from the launch pad that brought the first people to the moon.

H/T the Verge

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*First Published: May 10, 2017, 1:30 pm CDT