Elon Musk has shared a new animation created by SpaceX to demonstrate the planned launch process for its Falcon Heavy rocket, which it hopes to test fly for the first time this coming November. The animation depicts launch of the three-booster heavy rocket, separation of the first and second stages, and the return flight and landing of the three booster cores used to get the rocket to space.
This is, of course, an idealized look at what SpaceX would like to happen when it launches the Falcon Heavy, if all goes well; the reality isn’t likely to match up with this concept simulation, at least at first.
Even Musk himself has been hedging heavily about the chances of the first Falcon Heavy flight’s success. In the caption for today’s Instagram post, for instance, he said that there is a “Lot that can go wrong in the November launch,” and he said during a fireside chat at this year’s ISS R&D space science conference that SpaceX will consider themselves lucky if the rocket clears the launch facility before anything goes really wrong.
It sounds like he’d expect it to experience “rapid unscheduled disassembly” (aka explode) before it ever reaches orbit on its first flight. That doesn’t mean the test itself won’t be worth SpaceX’s time: In the rocket business, every failure is a learning opportunity, and Musk has said there are aspects of the Falcon Heavy launch system they just can’t learn more about with static ground firing and simulations — the rocket has to fly, first.