SpaceX shows off its Falcon Heavy rocket vertical on the launchpad


If the unmanned launch is successful, SpaceX will be the first commercial company to launch such a powerful rocket. In addition to the Zuma, Friday's launch will also include a landing attempt by the first stage of the two-stage Falcon 9 which is set to come back to Earth at Landing Zone 1, a facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Others shared on Twitter this week show the Falcon Heavy standing tall on the launchpad at the Kennedy Space Center. There's now no telling where the satellite will be going after lift-off although it's somewhere in low-Earth orbit.

The United States has once again risen to become the country with the greatest number of space launches in 2017, buoyed by the strength of private launch companies. Meanwhile, the center stage will throttle up and continue on as if it were a Falcon 9. However, the sort of single-use separation motors would run counter to SpaceX's primary pursuit of completely reusable rockets. We're still several months away from the ideal Mars transfer window, and the second stage isn't created to insert the payload into orbit of another planet (you'd need a separate rocket package for the auto payload).

SpaceX is getting ready for its first ever test flight of the Falcon Heavy, its heavy-duty rocket aimed at propelling large cargo loads into low Earth orbit.

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Musk wrote, "The payload will be an original Tesla Roadster, playing Space Oddity, on a billion year elliptic Mars orbit". But don't get too excited just yet: SpaceX has a history of delays.

CEO Elon Musk tweeted video of the rocket going vertical at historic Launch Pad 39A Thursday.

The Kennedy Space Center lists January 2018 as the earliest possible slot for the launch.

Follow along on Instagram as Teslarati's launch photographer and correspondent Tom Cross provides behind-the-scenes live coverage of both the launch of Zuma (NET January 5) and the final operations ahead of Falcon Heavy's first launch.