In DepthSpace

Heavy-lift rocket poised to boost space science

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Science  26 Jan 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6374, pp. 376-377
DOI: 10.1126/science.359.6374.376

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Summary

In the coming weeks, SpaceX is expected to debut its Falcon Heavy rocket. Space scientists will be rooting for a successful launch, too. With its heavy-lift capability, the rocket can fling larger probes to distant planets more quickly—and, perhaps, more cheaply—than previous rockets. The Falcon Heavy is 70 meters tall, the most powerful rocket since the Saturn V that took humans to the moon. For just $90 million, it is expected to carry up to 64,000 kilograms to low-Earth orbit, more than twice the payload of the biggest currently available vehicle. That could make it easier and cheaper for NASA and other agencies to send probes to destinations like Pluto and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Astronomers planning for giant space telescopes also want the extra lift.

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