SpaceX has unveiled the first fully assembled Falcon Heavy rocket, ahead of maiden test launch later next month.
Destined to become the most powerful operational rocket in the world, the Falcon Heavy will have the ability to lift into orbit over 54 metric tons (119,000 lb)-a mass equivalent to a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel.
In Comparison it can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the ULA Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost.
Weighing 1420 tonne on lift off, the two-stage FH is based on SpaceX's proven Falcon 9 rocket, literally a Falcon 9 equipped with two Falcon 9 first stages as boosters.
The first stage is composed of three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores whose 27 Merlin engines together generate more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft. Only the Saturn V moon rocket, last flown in 1973, delivered more payload to orbit.
The second stage is powered by a single Merlin 1D engine modified for vacuum operation, with a thrust of 934 kN (210,000 lbf).
At liftoff, the boosters and the center core all operate at full thrust. Shortly after liftoff, the center core engines are throttled down. After the side cores separate, the center core engines throttle back up.
Falcon Heavy was designed from the outset to carry humans into space and restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars.