The first serious launch of Falcon Heavy: a new era of space exploration with heavy rockets

Falcon Heavy has flown before, but now he wearspayload, and competitors catch up. This is the first of a new generation of launch vehicles that can inexpensively and often deliver huge valuable cargoes into space, opening up a new milestone in the space race. On April 9th ​​at 6:36 pm EDT Falcon Heavy will have to launch Arabsat-6A into space. Why should this surprise anyone?

The first serious launch of Falcon Heavy was postponed from April 7 to April 9

This day Falcon Heavy will fly for the first time.after the first test in February of last year, which brought the Tesla Roadster and the “Starman” behind the wheel to a trajectory that held them outside of Mars. This successful launch brought SpaceX to its first client on this system, and the next launch will bring Lockheed’s Arabsat-6A communications satellite into geosynchronous orbit.

Pre-static warm-upgood, but the launch was postponed “for the next week” - tentatively, on April 8-14. SpaceX CEO Ilon Musk noted on Twitter that Block 5 Falcon Heavy (that is, the production version, not the test version, which we saw) has 10% more traction than before, which also leads to increased safety.

Why is this launch of Falcon Heavy so important? After all, launch vehicles capable of leading a hundred tons of material into orbit or beyond have existed since the days of Apollo. In short: the issue price.

To bring anything into space is quite difficult. But the more the load, the harder it is to lift it: the equations that we have known for a hundred years, determine that the more mass, the more fuel you need to create traction and bring this mass into orbit, and all this is connected.

As progress is made in materials and missileengines, disproportionately large benefit observed small and medium-sized missiles. In combination with a decrease in the size of satellites, all this resulted in a whole era of small devices that can be launched in large numbers - and therefore we see so many promises to deploy networks of thousands of satellites.

Effective disposables, like Electron from Rocket Lab, and reusable rockets, like Falcon 9, launched the process of lowering prices for small and medium launches - at times.

But heavy and super heavy boostersremained phenomenally expensive because of the fundamentally complex nature of creating these physically unruly monsters. Thus, if the output of 10 tons to orbit became cheap enough for startups to resort to it, the output of 100 tons remains an estate of world superpowers.

Falcon Heavy - in fact, the first rocket, whichstarts a price shift in this category, reducing the cost of launching large loads by a large percentage. And although the cost is still an impressive $ 100 million, it is much less than 350-500 million dollars for the launch of the Delta IV.

This level of economy can transformthe entire space program. NASA can add to its budget an entire mission of exploring the planets due to the difference in price. Of course, mathematics is always more difficult than it seems, but 3 or 5 times the difference in the cost of launching cannot be ignored.

The market of heavy launches, like small ones, is stronglimited States and large corporations are lining up in a multi-year queue to bring large loads into orbit. SpaceX will sell the space on Falcon Heavy as soon as it is built, that is, as production proceeds. And since its reusable stages, the company will be able to do it faster than the rest. This is a huge savings that will greatly contribute to the development of the global space community.

Falcon Heavy hardly competes on the field.launch of cargoes above the 50-ton threshold, but it becomes cramped below this field. ULA, Ariane Group, Russia and China, even Blue Origin are preparing cheaper next-generation platforms for participating in a new ecosystem.

Currently Falcon Heavy is an anomaly,which everyone welcomes. Reducing the cost and complexity of more ambitious and long-term projects is an exciting prospect, and the next launch of a heavyweight rocket should confirm that the world is changing. And we are witnesses.

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