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

SpaceX/FlickrThe Falcon Heavy, ready to go.
  • 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 US ET (7:45am AEDT). The launch window ends 15 minutes after that. 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.

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.

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.