Elon Musk's Roadster to enter orbit any day

Elon Musk's rocket company SpaceX relies on personnel from the U.S. Air Force's 45th Space Wing to perform tests and other operations related to its giant Falcon Heavy rocket. The 45th Space Wing tweeted on Monday that the shutdown would'disrupt the

Following a successful hold-down firing on January 25, an official launch date of the rocket has been revealed: February 6.

The three-core, 230-foot-tall Falcon Heavy is shaping up to become the world's most powerful rocket in operation, with a liftoff thrust of 5.1 million pounds.

The first flight will carry a dummy payload, though Musk has joked about using the rocket to carry a Tesla Roadster into space (which might actually be the case, judging from pre-release photos of the auto sitting in the Falcon Heavy's payload chamber).

For its first test mission, the Falcon Heavy will launch a dummy payload.

The Falcon Heavy is essentially three of SpaceX's workhorse Falcon 9 vehicles strapped together.

Last week, Musk shared photographs from the Falcon Heavy's static fire test. It also has three times more engines.

If you have space-obsessed friends, you might have heard the name "Falcon Heavy" used a lot lately.

If all goes as planned, Musk's Roadster will wind up in a long, elliptical orbit around the sun, stretching as far out as the orbit of Mars.

The Falcon Heavy will be the first spacecraft to deliver large payloads to low-Earth orbit inside a composite fairing. During the first launch, Falcon Heavy's engines will be throttled to 92 percent of full power.

Musk chimed in a few days later to confirm the tentative date of the rocket's maiden flight: "Aiming for first flight of Falcon Heavy on Feb 6 from Apollo launchpad 39A at Cape Kennedy".

The first Falcon Heavy mission will even use two refurbished boosters from previous Falcon 9 missions. Two of them will make a synchronized landing back at Kennedy Space Center. Tom will be heading to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station early tomorrow morning in order to set up his remote cameras to capture yet another lovely SpaceX launch. Inside it are 27 Merlin engines housed in Falcon 9 nine-engine cores.

SpaceX will test-fire the rocket's 27 engines at the pad Monday. Instead, people are flocking to Florida's Space Coast for the launch (so much so that NASA sold out $195 dollar tickets to a viewing party for the launch with a champagne toast and commemorative glasses) in large part to see what will occur after liftoff: SpaceX will attempt to land all three cores of the enormous rocket's first stage, with two touching down nearly simultaneously on ground-based landing pads, and the center core descending shortly after to land on an autonomous drone ship at sea.

Follow along live as launch photographer Tom Cross and I cover these exciting proceedings as close to live as possible.

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