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SpaceX unveils launch site for Falcon heavy rocket

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The Falcon heavy rocket will have its first demonstration flight in 2012.

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE (BNS): Inching a step closer in its ambitious space programme, private US firm SpaceX on Wednesday broke the ground on a new launch site for its Falcon heavy-lift rocket.

The ground breaking ceremony for the new launch location, called the Falcon Heavy-Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Air Force Base, was attended by SpaceX CEO and chief rocket designer Elon Musk who was also joined by California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and other dignitaries.

The new launch site in California will lift off the Falcon heavy rocket, which SpaceX has termed as the world’s most powerful rocket after the Saturn V rocket used in the Apollo Moon missions.

The company unveiled Falcon Heavy in April this year which will have its first demonstration flight at the end of 2012.

The rocket is designed to lift into orbit satellites or spacecraft weighing over 53 metric tons, or 117,000 pounds – more than twice the capacity of the Space Shuttle or Delta IV Heavy launcher.

According to the company, the Falcon Heavy will be the first ever rocket to break the $1,000-per-pound-to-orbit barrier, less than a tenth as much as the Space Shuttle.

“Falcon Heavy, along with SpaceX’s medium-lift Falcon 9, offers the next generation of launch capability to the US Air Force, NASA, and commercial satellite companies at revolutionary costs.

“With a launch site at Vandenberg and the world’s largest rocket, SpaceX will be ready to compete for the full range of US government business, provided competition is allowed,” the private space firm, which has been contracted by NASA to build US’s next-gen spacecraft to transport cargo to the International Space Station, said.

Presently, the United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed, is conducting all launches for the US Defense Department.

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