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Plans For World's Most Powerful Rocket Unveiled

World's most powerful rocket planned

The private rocket company SpaceX says its next rocket will be the most powerful in the world. The new rocket, called the Falcon Heavy, is designed to carry up to about twice as much weight as a NASA space shuttle can take to orbit. It's expected to be at the launchpad at the end of next year for its first flight, with the launch likely coming in 2013.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk described his company's new rocket during a press conference in Washington, D.C. He says it will be able to take about 117,000 pounds to orbit.

"So that is really, really humongous," says Musk. "It's more payload capability than any vehicle in history, apart from the Saturn V."

The Saturn V was NASA's moon rocket and was decommissioned after the Apollo program ended. Musk said the Falcon Heavy has about half the lifting capability of the Saturn V.

"So in principle, you could do another mission to the moon, just by doing two launches of a Falcon Heavy," says Musk. He also described possible missions to an asteroid, or an unmanned mission to collect samples of rocks from Mars and return them to Earth.

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