Elon Musk has tweeted out photos of SpaceX’s almost fully assembled Falcon Heavy rocket in Cape Canaveral, Florida — the biggest and best glimpse so far into what the final iteration will look like. The rocket’s launch date is set for sometime in January and has never gotten this far in development before, so the photos do show something that’s quite promising. From the pictures, the biggest missing pieces look to be the payload and nose cone at the top.
The Falcon Heavy consists of three Falcon 9 cores strapped together and will be mostly reusable, with all three cores intended to return to Earth after launch so they can be used for other missions. Musk has said the rocket’s outer cores for this upcoming launch are previously flown Falcon 9 boosters.
As we’ve previously reported, the Falcon Heavy will be one of the most powerful rockets ever made, capable of lofting around 140,000 pounds of cargo into lower Earth orbit. But given all the delays and challenges endured by Falcon Heavy, Musk has understandably set the bar low for success. “I hope it makes it far enough away from the pad that it does not cause pad damage,” said Musk in July. “I would consider even that a win, to be honest.”