SpaceX plans to conduct the debut launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket this summer using two boosters that have already flown on other missions, SpaceX Founder and Chief Executive Elon Musk said March 30. Speaking after the company’s success in launching its first pre-flown first stage with the SES-10 satellite aboard, Musk said SpaceX has worked out most of the challenges associated with getting three Falcon 9 cores to fly together — a task that has proven much more complex than it originally appeared. “Falcon Heavy is one of those things that at first it sounded easy,” Musk said. “We’ll just take two first stages and use them as strap-on boosters. And like, actually no, this is crazy hard, and required a redesign of the center core, and a ton of additional hardware. It was actually shockingly difficult to go from a single core to a triple-core vehicle.”
Falcon Heavy is designed to lift more than 54 metric tons to low Earth orbit, 22 metric tons to geostationary transfer orbit, or 13.6 metric tons to Mars. When SpaceX first revealed the Falcon Heavy in 2011, the company anticipated a first mission in 2013, but complexities in getting the vehicle to work, combined with delays from two Falcon 9 failures, dragged out that timeline.