SpaceX reveals plans for heavy lift rocket

The entire universe in blog form
April 5 2011 2:30 PM

SpaceX reveals plans for heavy lift rocket

The privately owned commercial rocket company SpaceX has just revealed the design for their next generation rocket: the Falcon Heavy. It will be able to lift a whopping 53 tons to low-Earth (200 km, 120 mile) orbit -- for comparison, Hubble Space Telescope has a mass of 11 tons -- or lighter payloads to higher orbit or escape velocity.

I am an unabashed fan of SpaceX, mostly because they've proven their worth. The Falcon 1 and 9 rockets have had successful launches, and the company itself has shown to be flexible and respond rapidly to problems during the launch sequence (after losing a Falcon 1, they successfully launched another one only two months later). They're still young and only have a few launches under their belt, but I think they have a pretty good future ahead of them.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  


This heavy-lift vehicle is still in the planning stages (you can watch a fun animation of a launch on the SpaceX site), but is based on technology SpaceX has already shown to work (with the caveat that the engines are based on an upgrade to the flight-tested Merlin engines). If it goes as planned, it will be the highest-thrust rocket on Earth with twice the thrust of the Delta IV at only a third of the cost per payload: $1000/pound to orbit, which is very roughly 1/10th the cost of using the Space Shuttle. We'll see if these numbers hold up, but the rocket looks very promising.

I'm a big fan of our government using private companies to launch payloads to orbit and beyond. We spend a lot of money on that right now, and SpaceX has a real shot at saving the government quite a bit of that money. It's too early to tell here, but I'm very hopeful that the future of the space program here in America is actually pretty bright in the middle-near term.

Related posts:



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.