The maiden flight of SpaceX's new Falcon Heavy rocket was planned for the final days of this year so this piece of news doesn't come as a big surprise. The space launch company announced the test flight has slipped to an early 2018 schedule.
In simple terms, Falcon Heavy is a super heavy-lift launch vehicle that basically consists of a strengthened Falcon 9 rocket core with two strap-on Falcon 9 first stage boosters. This concoction features a total of 27 Merlin 1D rocket engines, which all need to be fired simultaneously.
SpaceX boss Elon Musk tries to keep expectations low and suggests odds are high that Falcon Heavy's maiden flight will be a total disaster. Full details SpaceFlightNow.
The commercial space company, led by billionaire Elon Musk, held out hope of launching the first Falcon Heavy test flight before the end of December until recently. The delay to early 2018 was first reported Tuesday by Aviation Week and Space Technology, and SpaceX confirmed the schedule slip to Spaceflight Now.
Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, told Aviation Week that the launch will follow the Falcon Heavy’s static fire, which is set to occur in December, by a few weeks.
SpaceX still plans to do two or three Falcon 9 launches before year-end. So far, SpaceX has completed 16 Falcon 9 flights this year.