(PhysOrg.com) -- Private spaceflight company, SpaceX, unveiled their massive 22 story big Falcon Heavy rocket capable of carrying a cargo capacity of 117,000 pounds. The 27-enginge Falcon Heavy is aimed to carry large commercial and government payloads into Earth orbit.
The 227 foot Falcon Heavy rocket is currently under construction at SpaceXs California HQ; the rocket dwarfs any of its rivals. The closest NASA heavy-lift rocket would be the Saturn V which launched the Apollo program.
In the private sector the closet rocket for comparison would be the United Launch Alliances Delta IV, a 50,000-pound capacity booster that launches the Pentagons heavy payloads.
According to SpaceX the Falcon Heavy offers a cost advantage over existing boosters. With a price range of $80-125 million Falcon Heavy can deliver twice the payload into orbit. This compares to United Launch Alliances Delta IV, a 50,000-pound capacity booster, costing $275 million per launch.
SpaceX manages to keep their production cost down because they manufacture most of the parts in-house in the Hawthorne, CA complex that once assembled Boeings 747 jumbo jets. The company also employs young engineers, in their early 30s that work for much less pay than they would make at larger aerospace companies.
SpaceX aims to launch their new heavy-lifter in a demo flight from Californias Vandenberg AFB, northwest of Santa Barbara, by end of next year. The companys vision for the future is not only to launch satellites but also to carry robots and astronauts to Mars.
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More information: LA Times and SpaceX