SpaceX to kick off new year with government launch

SpaceX pushes rocket launch back to Sunday

SpaceX releases close up images of Falcon Heavy's launch pad debut

The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket is preparing to fly for the first time later in January.

The September 2016 accident that blew up a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket does not count as a failed mission, since the rocket blew up while it was on the launch pad, and not during a mission.

The Falcon Heavy will return to the launch pad in the next few days for the static-fire test, where the engines in the rocket's three booster cores - 27 in total - will briefly ignite. It's only fitting seeing as the Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket since the Saturn V. However, it is rather implausible that SpaceX would choose to take unreasonable risks with one of its invaluable launch pads, particularly LC-39A - tasked with supporting SpaceX's upcoming Commercial Crew demonstration missions no earlier than August 2018.

SpaceX Falcon Heavy
SpaceX shows off its Falcon Heavy rocket vertical on the launchpad

The rocket will carry the mysterious Zuma payload, which was supposed to be launched back in November. SpaceX's Dragon and Falcon families of spacecraft have not only captured public fascination, but also secured for themselves a number of high-profile operations with governmental agencies.

'Test flights of new rockets usually contain mass simulators in the form of concrete or steel blocks, ' Musk said. The craft is already fitted with one of Tesla's Roadster vehicles and will be aimed squarely at Mars. Since there's a chance the first launch will end catastrophically, SpaceX didn't want to use anything important as the payload. Will be in deep space for a billion years or so if it doesn't blow up on ascent. Inside that cone-shaped faring rests Elon Musk's personal Tesla Roadster.

SpaceX has been working on the Falcon Heavy rocket for years, and announced this fall that work to build an even bigger rocket that will be capable of transporting humans to Mars was already underway. Whatever does happen, the Falcon Heavy launch is sure to make for a thrilling spectacle. Given SpaceX's previous history of rather exceptional live coverage of both their Falcon 9 launches and landings, fans can expect a truly stunning tour-de-force of a show if the launch goes as planned.

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