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SpaceX scheduled to reveal heavy-duty Falcon rocket

Posted: April 4, 2011

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SpaceX plans to unveil a new super-rocket Tuesday, putting the blossoming space transportation firm in contention for larger satellite launches and more ambitious exploration missions.

Artist's concept of the Falcon Heavy rocket. Credit: SpaceX
Named the Falcon Heavy and advertised at $95 million per mission, the liquid-fueled rocket would become the most powerful launcher in the U.S. fleet, eclipsing the peak performance of the Atlas 5 and Delta 4 boosters.

Elon Musk, SpaceX's founder and CEO, will discuss the Falcon Heavy in a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington at 11:20 a.m. EDT (1520 GMT).

SpaceX released a viral marketing video last week declaring "something big is coming" and containing glimpses of the Falcon Heavy.

The Falcon Heavy will be able to lift more than 70,000 pounds to low Earth orbit and 43,000 pounds to geostationary transfer orbit, a destination for international communications satellites.

The 180-foot-tall booster would consist of three first stages derived from SpaceX's medium-lift Falcon 9 rocket bolted together to form a triple-body launch vehicle.

The Falcon Heavy would produce more than 3.3 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, according to a SpaceX information sheet. Launches would occur from Cape Canaveral, Fla.