The Falcon Heavy has “the ability to lift into orbit over 54 metric tons – a mass equivalent to a 737-jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage, and fuel – Falcon Heavy can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle,” the company says on its website.
Sounding a note of caution, chief executive officer of SpaceX and Tesla, Elon Musk has warned that the Falcon Heavy’s maiden flight may not be successful but plans on sending his own Tesla Roadster up to space if all goes to plan. The entrepreneur said, “I love the thought of a car drifting apparently endlessly through space and perhaps being discovered by an alien race millions of years in the future.”
The Falcon Heavy is engineered in much the same way as SpaceX's successful Falcon, albeit three times the size. The three-stage rocket is completely reusable with SpaceX aiming to land each section of the rocket after its launch. Two parts of the rocket will land at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and one at sea, on one of SpaceX’s drone ships.
Twelve of the attempted seventeen Falcon landings on the drone ships have been successful. The drones form an integral part of SpaceX’s mission to reuse rockets to reduce the cost of space exploration.
There are already four additional launch dates for Falcon Heavy. After its initial maiden launch, there is a planned mission to send a Saudi Arabian communications satellite into orbit. There are tentative plans for its first crewed mission to also occur this year. The date for the launch has not been set yet.
Once tested and in operation, the Falcon Heavy will be used to launch large satellites as well as for cargo and missions to destinations outside of our solar system.