SpaceX targets Falcon Heavy test flight launch for Feb. 6

Elon Musk confirms liftoff date on Twitter

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist, Clay LePard - Reporter

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. - SpaceX is targeting Feb. 6 for the test flight of the Falcon Heavy rocket that will rumble across the Space Coast as the most powerful launch vehicle of today, Elon Musk announced on social media Saturday.

NASASpaceFlight reports SpaceX is preparing for a possible launch on Feb. 6, with a backup date of Feb. 7. The three-hour launch window opens at 1:30 p.m.

"Aiming for first flight of Falcon Heavy on Feb. 6 from Apollo launchpad 39A at Cape Kennedy," Musk said in a tweet Saturday. "Easy viewing from the public causeway."

The commercial company successfully completed an important engine test this week, firing up all of Falcon Heavy's 27 Merlin engines on the launch pad.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet after the static fire test that the heavy lift rocket's maiden voyage could happen in "a week or so," although launches usually happen about two weeks after a static fire text.

The Feb. 6 date could shift, as SpaceX also has a Falcon 9 launch on Jan. 30 for Luxemburg satellite manufacture SES on neighboring Cape Canaveral Air Force Space Launch Complex 40. If the SES-16/GovSat 1 mission delays, so will Falcon Heavy.

When Falcon Heavy launches, it will blast off from NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Launchpad 39A with approximately 5 million pounds of thrust.

The 20-story rocket looks like a Falcon 9, but with two core stages strapped to its sides, equaling three total. SpaceX will attempt to recover all three first stages after launch, landing the side boosters back at Cape Canaveral Landing Zone 1 and the middle on an ocean drone ship.

Launch viewing tickets through Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex went on sale Thursday and quickly sold out for the closest "Feel the Heat" spots at the Apollo/Saturn V Center.

"We're going to be full," said Ginny Fizpatrick, who runs Casa Coquina Del Mar with her husband. "We're already full for a couple of days that week. There's only a couple of days that we have any availability at all."

Their bed and breakfast is just across the river from Launchpad 39A. Even before the date was announced, Fitzpatrick dealt with plenty of guests rushing to make reservations.

"As soon as [the space center] announced they were going to sell tickets, one guest booked for the whole week on the chance it would go off that week," Fitzpatrick said. "Every single launch is exciting to us. I've never had a launch I wasn't excited over. But this one is like the biggest thing since the Saturn 5 went up."

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