Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Falcon 9 Heavy
With two successful launches of its Falcon 9 rocket under its corporate belt, SpaceX is now developing the Falcon 9 Heavy-- essentially a Falcon 9 with strap-on boosters. SpaceX says Heavy would be about half as powerful as the legendary Saturn V. Heavy would thus be able to propel private missions to the Moon, for example, though a mission might require more than one launch and assembly of the lunar ship in Earth orbit. A private lunar base isn't just a theoretical possibility, either. Bigelow Aerospace, for example, is looking at establishing just such a base using its inflatable module technology. BA's base would be designed to support tourism, scientific research, and commercial enterprises. SpaceX says the Falcon 9 Heavy could be ready by 2013. The company is also looking at a super heavy configuration which would be 50 percent more powerful than the Saturn. Such a rocket would not only be able to launch Moon missions, but Mars missions, as well.