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SpaceX Falcon Heavy: How it stacks up with other massive rockets

SpaceX launched its new rocket on an uncrewed test flight from Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday.The private spa...

Posted: Feb 6, 2018 5:31 PM
Updated: Feb 6, 2018 5:31 PM

SpaceX launched its new rocket on an uncrewed test flight from Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday.

The private space company says the rocket, called Falcon Heavy, is the most powerful rocket in use today.

It is not, however, bigger or more powerful than the mighty Saturn V that was used to launch the Apollo astronauts to the moon in the '60s and '70s and then to launch the Skylab space station in 1973.

And there are plans for a few other rockets that could one day rival the Falcon Heavy.

Here's how some of the biggest U.S. rockets -- of the past, present, and future -- stack up.

Falcon Heavy

Status: First test flight took place February 6

Height: 229.6 feet (70 meters)

Liftoff thrust: 5 million pounds

Capability: 140,660 pounds (63,800 kilograms) to LEO

(Note: Capability refers to the maximum payload weight the rocket can deliver to Low-Earth Orbit.)

Planned payloads: One Tesla (dummy payload), satellites, cargo, astronauts, tourists

Space Launch System

NASA is building the Space Launch System, a rocket designed to take people into deep space and potentially Mars. The space agency will be able to configure the rocket differently for each mission.

Status: No earlier than late 2019

Height: 322 - 365 feet (98.1 - 111.3 meters)

Liftoff thrust: up to 11.9 million pounds (5 million kg)

Capability: 150,000 - 290,000 pounds (70,000 - 130,000 kilograms) to LEO

Planned payloads: Cargo, astronauts

Saturn V

Even after the Falcon Heavy launches, the Saturn V will remain the tallest and most powerful rocket ever, and the only one to help carry humans beyond Earth's orbit. NASA used the Saturn V to send astronauts to the moon in the Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 spacecraft.

A Saturn V also launched Apollo 13, but the spacecraft (not the rocket) had a problem and the astronauts didn't land. The last Saturn V was used to launch Skylab, America's first space station, on May 14, 1973.

Status: Retired in 1973

Height: 363 feet (111 meters)

Liftoff thrust: 7.6 million pounds (3.4 million kilograms)

Capability: 260,000 pounds (118,000 kilograms) to LEO

Payloads: Apollo spacecraft and astronauts, Skylab

New Glenn

Blue Origin -- the space startup created by Amazon's Jeff Bezos -- has a small, reusable rocket to send paying tourists on trips to sub-orbital space. But, the company also has plans for a monstrous new machine that can send people and payloads to Earth's orbit. It'll come in two configurations: one with two stages and another with an added third stage for extra boost.

Status: First test flight no earlier than 2020

Height: 326 feet (99.4 meters)

Liftoff thrust: 3.9 million pounds (1.8 million kilograms)

Capability: 10,000 pounds (4,500 kilograms) to LEO

Planned payloads: Satellites, humans

Delta IV Heavy

SpaceX's competitor, United Launch Alliance, has the Delta IV Heavy. This rocket was first tested in 2004 and it's taller than the Falcon Heavy, but SpaceX is promising to take up heavier payloads. The Delta IV Heavy doesn't fly often, but it's been the U.S. military's go-to rocket for sending large national security satellites into orbit.

Status: Currently operational

Height: 235 feet (71.6 meters)

Liftoff thrust: 2.1 million pounds (1 million kilograms)

Capability: 62,500 pounds (28,000 kilograms) to LEO

Payloads: Satellites

Vulcan

United Launch Alliance is developing a new generation of rockets, dubbed Vulcan after the Roman god of fire. The concept was first announced in 2015, and CEO Tory Bruno has said the most powerful version of the Vulcan could rival the Falcon Heavy's power. The Vulcan can add thrust by strapping extra rocket boosters to the sides of its main column.

Status: First test flight no earlier than 2020

Height: 228 ft (69.5 meters)

Liftoff thrust: 3.8 million pounds (1.7 million kg)

Capability: 80,000 pounds (36,000 kg)

Space Shuttle

Space Shuttle refers to the reusable spacecraft system that NASA developed to send people and payloads into orbit between 1981 and 2011. The systems consisted of a white winged "Orbiter" with powerful engines that attached to a massive external fuel tank and two rocket boosters on the launch pad. There were five "Orbiters" capable of spaceflight -- Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis.

Status: Retired in 2011

Height: 184 feet (56.1 meters) including external tank

Capability: 65,000 pounds (2,900 kilograms) to LEO

Liftoff thrust: 7.8 million pounds (3.5 million kg)

Payload: Astronauts, experiments, supplies, other cargo, satellites

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 276500

Reported Deaths: 3321
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin590031089
Ramsey24988472
Anoka19724213
Dakota19215176
Washington12538106
Stearns1226689
Scott753854
St. Louis740897
Wright663436
Olmsted610130
Sherburne512539
Clay445155
Carver409712
Blue Earth373511
Rice361431
Kandiyohi348215
Crow Wing316130
Nobles296028
Chisago28398
Otter Tail266615
Benton261940
Winona246128
Mower236722
Polk228621
Douglas219829
Morrison211621
Lyon193711
McLeod18879
Beltrami184615
Goodhue177626
Becker17559
Itasca168924
Steele16756
Todd165312
Isanti165015
Carlton153610
Nicollet146523
Freeborn13935
Mille Lacs132830
Le Sueur13219
Waseca129710
Cass12018
Pine11926
Brown117510
Meeker10797
Roseau9923
Martin98220
Hubbard97022
Wabasha9121
Dodge7850
Redwood78018
Watonwan7754
Chippewa7697
Sibley7094
Renville70818
Cottonwood7060
Wadena7006
Aitkin68923
Pipestone67018
Rock6439
Houston6152
Fillmore6050
Yellow Medicine56611
Pennington5356
Kanabec52911
Murray5283
Swift4976
Pope4820
Faribault4750
Stevens4442
Clearwater4356
Marshall4277
Jackson4091
Lake3584
Unassigned34356
Koochiching3325
Wilkin3275
Lac qui Parle3203
Lincoln3141
Norman3096
Big Stone2771
Mahnomen2494
Grant2346
Red Lake1903
Kittson1856
Traverse1330
Lake of the Woods871
Cook580

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 213603

Reported Deaths: 2193
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk31707324
Linn13442161
Scott1040375
Black Hawk10393127
Woodbury9932114
Johnson911635
Dubuque879290
Story647619
Dallas602856
Pottawattamie585166
Sioux351925
Webster335930
Marshall332942
Cerro Gordo326541
Clinton307737
Buena Vista291114
Muscatine270366
Des Moines270116
Plymouth259537
Warren258510
Wapello242871
Jones222212
Jasper206639
Marion194418
Carroll190920
Lee190315
Bremer182612
Henry17087
Crawford170615
Benton160315
Tama146340
Jackson13758
Delaware136221
Washington131313
Boone128811
Dickinson127510
Mahaska121327
Wright11625
Buchanan11009
Page10834
Hardin107510
Clay10624
Clayton10234
Harrison102328
Hamilton10157
Cedar101413
Calhoun10047
Mills9886
Fayette9768
Floyd96914
Lyon9668
Kossuth9464
Poweshiek93712
Butler9134
Winneshiek90310
Iowa88011
Winnebago87523
Louisa81316
Hancock8067
Grundy79710
Chickasaw7893
Sac7817
Cherokee7624
Cass75419
Appanoose7426
Shelby7265
Allamakee72411
Mitchell7184
Union7096
Guthrie70815
Emmet70623
Franklin68419
Humboldt6645
Madison6474
Jefferson6351
Palo Alto6064
Unassigned5950
Keokuk5397
Pocahontas5192
Howard5069
Greene4980
Osceola4941
Clarke4614
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Ida43910
Montgomery43210
Taylor4312
Monroe42912
Adair4157
Monona3932
Fremont3463
Van Buren3364
Worth3360
Lucas3076
Decatur3000
Wayne2876
Audubon2831
Ringgold1892
Adams1551
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