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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: 582576

Reported Deaths: 7284
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1208311715
Ramsey50357867
Dakota45046442
Anoka40774432
Washington26338278
Stearns21901220
St. Louis17502302
Scott16980124
Wright15722135
Olmsted1309797
Sherburne1139484
Carver1031645
Clay807492
Rice7952106
Blue Earth739241
Crow Wing651888
Kandiyohi647282
Chisago581051
Otter Tail567578
Benton560197
Goodhue470872
Mower460332
Douglas459574
Winona448450
Itasca417953
McLeod417258
Morrison413660
Isanti408262
Nobles406748
Beltrami387358
Steele381015
Polk379567
Becker375449
Lyon357650
Carlton340353
Freeborn339529
Pine323521
Nicollet320943
Brown303040
Mille Lacs297152
Le Sueur285322
Todd277431
Cass265528
Meeker250140
Waseca235721
Martin227731
Roseau205019
Wabasha20313
Hubbard183341
Dodge18133
Renville178043
Redwood170836
Houston169215
Cottonwood162721
Fillmore153810
Pennington153319
Wadena152321
Chippewa151338
Faribault149919
Kanabec142424
Sibley140910
Aitkin133136
Watonwan13009
Rock127219
Jackson121211
Pipestone113826
Yellow Medicine113520
Pope10806
Murray10559
Swift103918
Stevens88511
Marshall87417
Clearwater85716
Koochiching81314
Lake80619
Wilkin79812
Lac qui Parle74922
Big Stone5934
Lincoln5733
Grant5648
Mahnomen5408
Norman5379
Unassigned48893
Kittson48122
Red Lake3957
Traverse3685
Lake of the Woods3183
Cook1560

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 364579

Reported Deaths: 5902
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57228619
Linn20701333
Scott19754239
Black Hawk15746307
Woodbury15087228
Johnson1439083
Dubuque13322209
Dallas1109597
Pottawattamie11036166
Story1054248
Warren572988
Clinton551692
Cerro Gordo535689
Sioux512474
Webster510892
Marshall480875
Muscatine473899
Des Moines451466
Wapello4283122
Buena Vista424140
Jasper413070
Plymouth400179
Lee372355
Marion360075
Jones296857
Henry290437
Carroll284752
Bremer282460
Crawford264340
Boone262334
Benton254955
Washington253050
Dickinson247343
Mahaska229250
Jackson220742
Clay214725
Kossuth214764
Tama208871
Delaware208040
Winneshiek196433
Page192121
Buchanan190431
Cedar188823
Fayette184441
Hardin184443
Wright183336
Hamilton179249
Harrison179173
Clayton168756
Butler163834
Mills161321
Madison160319
Floyd159542
Cherokee158338
Lyon157541
Poweshiek154633
Allamakee150351
Iowa147924
Hancock146434
Winnebago140831
Cass137654
Grundy135932
Calhoun135813
Emmet133740
Jefferson132135
Shelby130537
Sac130019
Appanoose128047
Louisa127849
Union127632
Mitchell125642
Chickasaw123615
Guthrie120729
Humboldt118726
Franklin116421
Palo Alto112123
Howard104122
Montgomery102737
Unassigned10070
Clarke99624
Keokuk95331
Monroe95028
Ida90334
Adair86232
Pocahontas85422
Monona82830
Davis81324
Osceola77916
Greene77610
Lucas76823
Worth7348
Taylor65612
Fremont6219
Decatur6059
Van Buren55618
Ringgold54524
Wayne53223
Audubon5069
Adams3374
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