Wednesday, July 13, 2011

SpaceX Breaks Ground on Falcon Heavy Test Site

A computer animation of a Falcon Heavy launch from Vandenberg AFB. Photo source:

The Los Angeles Times reports that SpaceX broke ground today on a test site at Vandenberg Air Force Base for its next generation rocket, the Falcon Heavy.

A sprawling hangar to house the assembly of the world's most powerful rocket and a launchpad capable of handling the earthshaking blast is being developed northwest of Santa Barbara at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Hawthorne-based rocket venture SpaceX said it was investing $30 million at the base's Space Launch Complex 4-East for its upcoming 22-story Falcon Heavy rocket.

The company, formally known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp., hopes to use the launchpad for the first time at the end of next year in a demonstration flight of the 27-engine rocket for the U.S. government. After that, the company hopes to use the facility to launch satellites for military and commercial customers.

A press release on the SpaceX web site claims, "This will be the world’s most powerful rocket, with more than twice the payload-to-orbit capacity of the space shuttle, but at only one third the cost of the Boeing/Lockheed Delta IV Heavy. The Falcon Heavy will be the first ever rocket to break the $1,000-per-pound-to-orbit barrier, less than a tenth as much as the Shuttle."

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