2018 will also bring some landmark moments in space, beginning with the biggest bang the industry has seen in nearly half a century, the maiden launch of the world's most powerful operational rocket later this month.
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket has been a long time coming. In simple terms, it is three of the company's Falcon 9 first stages banded together, with a second stage fixed to the top of the middle rocket. But as that old adage tells us, rocket science is anything but simple, and engineering challenges have continually pushed back the launch date of Falcon Heavy. Though now the stage is set.
The rocket will finally launch from Kennedy Space Center later this month, lifting off from the same pad used by the Saturn V rocket for the Apollo missions in the 1960s and 70s. Its 27 engines in all can produce a maximum thrust of 5.1 million pounds, the same as 18 747s, and CEO Elon Musk has said there is a good chance of explosions, being the first launch and all. So whether or not it is a successful one for SpaceX, the first launch of the Falcon Heavy will make for a hell of a spectacle.