Elon Musk’s SpaceX hopes to finally test out its Falcon Heavy rocket in just over a week’s time, the entrepreneur has announced.
If it does end up becoming commercially operational, Falcon Heavy will vastly increase the maximum weight that can be carried into low Earth orbit—where satellites generally go. It should be able to handle some 119,000 pounds of cargo.
Falcon Heavy is also the foundation of SpaceX’s grand plans for colonizing Mars.
According to Musk, Falcon Heavy’s first flight will take place on Feb. 6. Hopefully.
The rocket’s maiden flight was first supposed to happen in 2013—then early 2016, and then a bunch more hoped-for launch dates through 2016 and 2017.
The most recent disappointment came courtesy of the U.S. government’s brief shutdown earlier this month. Although SpaceX is a private endeavor, it can’t test Falcon Heavy without the U.S. Air Force’s help in keeping the public safe.
That occasion was supposed to see the static test firing of the Falcon Heavy’s 27 engines. This eventually happened on 24 January, clearing the way for the full launch.
The launch is slated to take place from Cape Canaveral’s Launch Pad 39A, which the Apollo missions also used. If it works, it will send one of Tesla’s Roadster sportscars into an orbit around the Sun, with the aim of eventually whizzing past Mars.
However, Musk has previously suggested that the whole thing might just explode along the way. Such is the way with experimentation.