Look alive, people. SpaceX has announced the date of its planned first launch of the Falcon Heavy, so if you were planning to book it off work, get it in the diary now.
In a tweet on Saturday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed that the company would attempt to launch the huge new rocket on Tuesday, February 6. Space fans have waited years for this launch, so you can bet there’s going to be plenty of excitement around it.
“Aiming for first flight of Falcon Heavy on Feb 6 from Apollo launchpad 39A at Cape Kennedy,” Musk said. “Easy viewing from the public causeway.”
The launch window is expected to open at 1.30pm eastern time, and will remain open for three hours. Note this is the earliest day SpaceX plans to launch, but the rocket could very well be delayed. A backup launch date is planned for the following day.
As mentioned in the tweet, the launch will take place from Launch Complex 39A at Cape Canaveral in Florida. Once used to send astronauts to the Moon, the pad is now being used by SpaceX for its new mega rocket.
The Falcon Heavy will become the most powerful rocket in operation today, and the biggest rocket that’s been launched since the Saturn V. On this test flight, it will be taking Musk’s Tesla roadster car to the orbital plane of Mars.
Last week the rocket completed its static fire test, trying out its 27 engines ahead of the launch. That test seemed to pass without a hitch, allowing SpaceX to set its target launch date.
As always with launches, there is a chance the rocket will be delayed. That could be due to weather, or any sort of minor problem with the rocket itself. So if you’re planning to make a trip there, be prepared to stay longer than a day.
You can buy tickets to view the launch from the Kennedy Space Center here, with the cheapest at $35. There are also plenty of public areas near the pad from where you can watch the launch. There’s a good guide to some here and also here.
It’s not just the launch that’ll be exciting, though, as SpaceX plans to land the rocket’s three boosters. Two of these will touch down on landing pads at Cape Canaveral, which should be visible from some locations. The third will land unseen on a floating barge out at sea.
If you can’t make it to Florida then fear not, there’ll be a livestream of the launch, most likely here. But wherever you are, it’s sure to be rather fantastic.