Falcon Heavy Overview
Falcon Heavy, the world’s most powerful rocket, represents SpaceX’s entry into the heavy lift launch vehicle category. With the ability to carry satellites or interplanetary spacecraft weighing over 53 metric tons (117,000 lb) to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Falcon Heavy can lift nearly twice the payload of the next closest vehicle, the US Space Shuttle, and more than twice the payload of the Delta IV Heavy.
With over 3.8 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, Falcon Heavy will be the most capable rocket flying. By comparison, the liftoff thrust of the Falcon Heavy equals fifteen Boeing 747 aircraft at full power.
|VEHICLE||INCLINATION||ORBIT||PAYLOAD TO LEO|
|Falcon Heavy||28.5 degrees||200 km||53,000 kg||Space Shuttle||28.5 degrees||200 km||24,400 kg||Delta IV Heavy||28.5 degrees||407 km||22,980 kg||Titan IV-B||28.5 degrees||150 km x175 km||21,680 kg||Proton M||51.6 degrees||200 km||21,000 kg||Ariane 5 ES||51.6 degrees||407 km||20,000 kg||Atlas V 551||28.5 degrees||200 km||18,810 kg||Japan H2B||30.4 degrees||300 km||16,500 kg||China LM3B||28.5 degrees||200 km||11,200 kg|
Table of the world’s heavy lift vehicles, based on historical launch data. Only the Saturn V moon rocket, last flown in 1973, delivered more payload to orbit than Falcon Heavy.
Built on the Flight-Proven Falcon 9
Falcon Heavy’s first stage will be made up of three nine-engine cores, which are used as the first stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle. It will be powered by SpaceX’s upgraded Merlin engines currently being tested at the SpaceX rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas. SpaceX has already designed the Falcon 9 first stage to support the additional loads of this configuration, and with common structures and engines for both Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, development and operation of the Falcon Heavy will be highly cost-effective.
|Mass to LEO (200 km, 28.5 deg):||53,000 kg (117,000 lb)|
|Overall Length:||69.2 m (227 ft)|
|Width (body):||3.6 m (12 ft) x 11.6 m (38 ft)|
|Width (fairing):||5.2 m (17 ft)|
|Thrust on liftoff:||17 MN (3,800,000 lbf)|
High Reliability and High Performance
The Falcon Heavy is designed for extreme reliability and can tolerate the failure of several engines and still complete its mission. As on commercial airliners, protective shells surround each engine to contain a worst-case situation such as fire or a chamber rupture, and prevent it from affecting the other engines and stages. A disabled engine is automatically shut down, and the remaining engines operate slightly longer to compensate for the loss without detriment to the mission.
Falcon Heavy will be the first rocket in history to feature propellant cross-feed from the side boosters to the center core. Propellant cross-feeding leaves the center core still carrying the majority of its propellant after the side boosters separate. This gives Falcon Heavy performance comparable to that of a three-stage rocket, even though only the single Merlin engine on the upper stage requires ignition after lift-off, further improving both reliability and payload performance. Should cross-feed not be required for lower mass missions, it can be easily turned off.
Anticipating potential astronaut transport needs, Falcon Heavy is also designed to meet NASA human rating standards. Falcon Heavy is designed to higher structural safety margins of 40% above flight loads, rather than the 25% level of other rockets, and triple redundant avionics. Despite being designed to higher structural margins than other rockets, the Falcon Heavy side booster stages have a mass ratio (full vs. empty) above 30, better than any launcher in history. By comparison, the Delta IV side boosters have a mass ratio of about 10.
Below are the standard fairing dimensions for Falcon Heavy. Dimensions are in meters and in inches inside the brackets. Custom fairings are available at incremental cost.
Launch and Placement Services
SpaceX offers open and fixed pricing for launch services based on SpaceX’s standard statement of work. Additional mission assurance activities or other non-standard services are available for an additional charge. Modest discounts are available for contractually committed, multi-launch purchases.
|Up to 6.4 ton to GTO||$83M*|
|Greater than 6.4 ton to GTO||$128M*|
*Paid in full standard launch prices for 2012. Please contact us for details at email@example.com