Elon Musk’s rocket is ‘too small’: Boeing slams Space X’s Falcon Heavy for NOT being equipped for missions into deep space
- The new space race heated up when the Falcon Heavy launched in February
- Boeing claims the rocket is ‘too small’ to challenge its Space Launch System
- It said the Falcon Heavy ‘failed to impress’ Nasa and ‘can’t compete’ with SLS
- SpaceX and Boeing are battling it out to be the first company to send humans into deep space
The new space race took a dramatic turn when Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy – the world’s most powerful operational rocket – earlier this year.
But according to competitor Boeing, the Falcon Heavy is ‘too small’ to challenge its Space Launch System (SLS) – a huge rocket it is building with Nasa.
In a post to its aerospace website Watch US Fly, Boeing said SpaceX’s mega rocket ‘failed to impress’ Nasa’s top brass and ‘can’t compete’ with SLS.
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According to Boeing, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket is ‘too small’ to challenge its Space Launch System (artist’s impression). In a post to its aerospace website ‘Watch US Fly’, Boeing said the Falcon Heavy ‘can’t compete’ with the SLS
‘The Falcon Heavy launch turned heads in February, but SpaceX’s rocket is a smaller type of rocket that can’t meet Nasa’s deep-space needs,’ the website reads.
‘The SLS can bring equipment into space that is too large for the Falcon Heavy.’
SpaceX and Boeing are locked in a race to deep space as each firm attempts to build a rocket capable of carrying humans and cargo to the moon and beyond.
The ultimate goal is to take the title as the first company to carry humans to Mars – an achievement that could earn the victor billions as the world’s space agencies flock for cargo space on its flights to the red planet.
According to the new Boeing post: ‘Once the Boeing-built SLS is operational, it will be the most powerful rocket ever built.’
The website backs up this claim by quoting Nasa’s Bill Gerstenmaier, who discussed the differences between SLS and the Falcon Heavy in March.
The new space race took a dramatic turn when SpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy – the world’s most powerful operational rocket – earlier this year. Pictured is the rocket’s maiden launch from the Kennedy Space Centre in February
WHAT IS NASA’S SPACE LAUNCH SYSTEM?
Nasa’s Space Launch System, or SLS, is an advanced launch vehicle that will ‘provide the foundation for human exploration beyond Earth’s orbit’, according to the space agency.
Launching with unprecedented thrust power, SLS will carry crews of up to four astronauts in the agency’s Orion spacecraft on missions to explore deep-space destinations.
Offering more payload mass, volume capability and energy to speed missions through space than any current launch vehicle, SLS is designed to evolve over several decades to keep up with modern technologies and payloads.
Nasa’s Space Launch System, or SLS, is an advanced launch vehicle that will ‘provide the foundation for human exploration beyond Earth’s orbit’, according to the space agency (artist’s impression)
These include robotic scientific missions to places like the Moon, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter.
The rocket’s first launch, which will be unmanned, is set for 2019 at Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.
The initial configuration for what SLS can carry past low-Earth orbit and on to the moon is more than 26 metric tons, with a final configuration of at least 45 metric tons.
Nasa intends to send humans to ‘deep-space’ destinations such as Mars and the moon aboard the SLS, with a date for a mission to the red planet set for the 2030s.
Elon Musk’s (pictured) SpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time in February
Gerstenmaier, chief of Nasa’s human spaceflight program, said SLS had ‘unique capabilities’ that the Falcon Heavy lacks while speaking at a meeting of the Nasa Advisory Council.
Boeing’s website reads: ‘The Falcon Heavy failed to impress the spaceflight department at Nasa.
‘Bill Gerstenmaier, the head of spaceflight at Nasa, said the Falcon Heavy is “too small” for NASA’s needs. Ouch.’
SLS has been plagued by delays since it was announced in 2011, and the project is yet to progress further than a number of static booster tests.
These rocket boosters are still at least two years away from being ready for SLS’s maiden, unpiloted flight.
Reports in November suggested Nasa engineers are expecting more development delays to materialise over the next couple of years during full-scale assembly and testing of the rocket’s core stage.
SpaceX and Boeing are locked in a race to deep space as each firm attempts to build a rocket capable of carrying humans and cargo to the moon and beyond. Boeing and Nasa’s Space launch System (artist’s impression) has been plagued by delays since it was announced in 2011
HOW DOES FALCON HEAVY MEASURE UP?
Height: 70 meters (229.6 feet)
Re-usable Cores: Three
Payload to Low Earth Orbit: 63,800kg (140,660 lb)
Payload to Mars: 16,800kg (37,040 lb)
Total width: 12.2m (39.9 ft)
Mass: 1,420,788kg (3,125,735 lb)
Total thrust at lift-off: 22,819 kilonewtons (5.13 million pounds)
When it launches, Falcon Heavy (left) will be the world’s most powerful rocket, capable of carrying payloads far greater than even the Apollo 11 space shuttle (second from left)
This unpiloted version of the SLS rocket is unlikely to come close to being the ‘most powerful rocket ever built’, as the website claims.
Nasa has said its first iteration of the SLS will be a stripped-down version of the model it plans to eventually send to Mars.
The ‘most powerful’ rocket ever built remains the Saturn V, which Nasa used in the 1960s and 1970s for its Apollo programme.
HOW DOES NASA’S SPACE LAUNCH SYSTEM ROCKET MEASURE UP?
Space Launch System, or SLS, is a launch vehicle that Nasa hopes will take its astronauts back to the moon and beyond.
The enormous rocket’s maiden, unmanned cargo flight is currently set for December 2019.
The rocket will have an initial lift configuration, set to launch in the mid-2020’s, followed by an upgraded ‘evolved lift capability’ that can carry heavier payloads. Nasa is yet to set a timeline for SLS’s second iteration.
Space Launch System Initial Lift Capability
– Maiden flight: Mid-2020’s
– Height: 311 feet (98 metres)
– Lift: 70 metric tons
– Weight: 2.5 million kilograms (5.5 million lbs)
Space Launch System Evolved Lift Capability
– Maiden flight: Unknown
– Height: 384 feet (117 metres)
– Lift: 130 metric tons
– Weight: 2.9 million kilograms (6.5 million lbs)
Nasa’s Space Launch System will have an initial lift configuration (second from right), set to launch in the mid-2020’s, followed by an upgraded ‘evolved lift capability’ (far right) that can carry heavier payloads
These rockets could list 118 metric tons to low Earth orbit (LEO) – significantly more than SLS’s initial configuration, which will have a 70-ton LEO capacity.
The Falcon Heavy, which launched for the first time in February, could list 64 tons to LEO.
Nasa plans to upgrade SLS to a 105-ton configuration, but this will not occur until at least the mid-2020s.
SpaceX’s ‘Big F****ing Rocket’ (artist’s impression) was announced last year, with CEO Elon Musk claiming it will perform an unmanned cargo flight to the red planet in 2022
The update will likely cost several billion dollars as Boeing will need to build the rocket a brand new upper stage.
SLS’s final configuration will lift 120 metric tons to LEO according to Nasa, but the space agency has no timetable for this version of the rocket.
SpaceX’s ‘Big F****ing Rocket’ (BFR) was announced last year, with CEO Elon Musk claiming it will perform an unmanned cargo flight to the red planet in 2022.
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