After Delays, SpaceX Performs Key Test Of Falcon Heavy Rocket

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After weeks of delays, SpaceX on Wednesday tested the engines of its Falcon Heavy - the most powerful rocket since the Apollo program's Saturn V - a key step before its maiden flight.

[ibd-display-video id=2117998 width=50 float=left autostart=true] The space company founded by Telsa ( TSLA ) CEO Elon Musk fired its engines while the rocket was strapped to the launchpad Wednesday.

The massive Falcon Heavy stands 230 feet tall and consists of three Falcon 9 first-stage cores. The thrust that its 27 engines can produce is equivalent to 18 Boeing ( BA ) 747s and makes it two times more powerful than any other rocket operating today, according to SpaceX.

After the test, SpaceX can firm up a date for the first launch of the rocket it plans to use for commercial and military missions - and eventually for travel to the moon and Mars.

The first flight had been scheduled for later this month, but delays with the static test fire and the government shutdown will likely push the launch into early February. A source told CNBC that SpaceX is now looking at a Feb. 6 launch date but Musk tweeted it could happen in "a week or so."

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According to an Instagram post in December , Musk said the first payload will be a red Tesla Roadster playing David Bowie's Space Oddity on a billion-year elliptical Mars orbit.

Musk has also said the first launch will use previously flown rocket outer cores, as SpaceX continues to make the push for reusable rockets to help lower launch costs and keep it competitive against United Launch Alliance, a Boeing- Lockheed Martin ( LMT ) joint venture.

If the Falcon Heavy's maiden flight is successful, it will launch an Arabsat satellite built by Lockheed sometime early this year and will be used in the U.S. Air Force's Space Test Program-2 mission, which is comprised of military and scientific research satellites, as early as April.

The Heavy's static fire tests come weeks after a Falcon 9 rocket apparently failed to put the Zuma spy satellite built by Northrop Grumman ( NOC ) into orbit. But SpaceX has maintained that its rocket "did everything correctly" during the Jan. 7 launch.

Boeing shares were down 0.2% on the stock market today , Lockheed rose 0.7%, and Northrop dipped 0.1%.


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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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