SpaceX's monster rocket could explode with the force of a 1.8-kiloton nuclear weapon

  • SpaceX founder Elon Musk hopes to finally launch Falcon Heavy— the most powerful rocket the company has ever built — this afternoon.
  • The rocket is set to launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida around 3:45 p.m. The launch window ends at 4:00 p.m. Watch it here
  • Elon Musk, SpaceX's CEO, told reporters on Tuesday there will be the equivalent of 4 million pounds of TNT on the launchpad. That's as much explosive power as a tactical-grade nuclear weapon. 

 

SpaceX is making preparations for the first launch of Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket the company has ever built.

And it's seriously huge. Falcon Heavy has 27 engines, with three main boosters that can ostensibly land themselves after delivering payloads to space.

SpaceX is bringing some serious firepower to blast a rocket of that size into space. Elon Musk, SpaceX's CEO, told reporters on Tuesday there will be the equivalent of 4 million pounds of TNT on the launchpad. That's as much explosive power as a tactical-grade nuclear weapon — around 1.8 kilotons.

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SpaceX Falcon heavy rocket blasts off from Florida
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SpaceX Falcon heavy rocket blasts off from Florida
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - FEBRUARY 05: The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket sits on launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center as it is prepared for tomorrow's lift-off on February 5, 2018 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rocket, which is the most powerful rocket in the world, is scheduled to make its maiden flight between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. tomorrow. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018.
Vapor rises before the scheduled launch of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
The SpaceX Falcon Heavy takes off from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on February 6, 2018, on its demonstration mission. The world's most powerful rocket, SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, blasted off Tuesday on its highly anticipated maiden test flight, carrying CEO Elon Musk's cherry red Tesla roadster to an orbit near Mars. Screams and cheers erupted at Cape Canaveral, Florida as the massive rocket fired its 27 engines and rumbled into the blue sky over the same NASA launchpad that served as a base for the US missions to Moon four decades ago. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket trails smoke after lifting off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
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According to an animation released by SpaceX, at approximately 90 minutes before launch,  SpaceX's launch director will give the go-ahead to load up the rocket with fuel. The rocket's fuel, a mix of rocket-grade kerosene known as RP-1 and liquid oxygen, is highly flammable. 

In other words, if the launch is unsuccessful, the rocket could explode with the force of a nuclear weapon.

The rocket will be carrying some precious cargo — Musk's personal 2008 Tesla roadster. The Falcon Heavy has enough thrust to launch payloads heavier than a car into space and could be used for future manned missions to the moon, and beyond.

But Musk was circumspect about the rocket's chances of making it into space in one piece.

"I'll consider it a win if it clears the pad and doesn't blow the pad to smithereens," Musk told Business Insider's Dave Mosher. And he's repeatedly warned there's a "good chance" the rocket will blow up

Watch the launch live here

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