As long as the government shutdown continues, SpaceX won't be able to test fire the company's new Falcon Heavy rocket. "It also impacts critical missions for our customers, including important worldwide allies scheduled to launch shortly from Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Force Base, as well as upcoming missions this spring to resupply the global Space Station".
SpaceX originally thought the shutdown would not impact its schedule, but the company later confirmed to The Verge that the shutdown does indeed delay the test of the Falcon Heavy. This is crucial, since a big part of the Air Force unit's job is making sure that people involved in launch operations are safe during missions. Worth almost $100 million each, SpaceX hopes to win more once Falcon Heavy is operational. SpaceX told Engadget that all launch operations will be delayed until the civilian employees of the 45th Space Wing return to work.
SpaceX had hoped to run a test launch of its Falcon Heavy - the first ever for the massive, high-capacity rocket - sometime this January, but that looks increasingly unlikely as it still needs to perform a static test fire (which also requires Space Wing support) prior to even attempting to get off the ground. The vital test was scheduled for later today, after an apparent fueling test yesterday, SpaceflightNow reported. The data generated during this test will help engineers prepare for the final launch.
According to SpaceX's website, the Falcon Heavy has the equivalent power of 18 jumbo jets at liftoff. In its first flight, the rocket and its 27 engines will push towards the heavens and, as Musk has stated multiple times, the rocket isn't expected to survive its trip.
The mammoth craft can take the largest payload since the Apollo lunar program's Saturn V. Falcon Heavy can carry up to 140,660 pounds into low-Earth orbit, while Saturn V could carry 310,000. Puffs of vapor were seen coming from the rocket at Kennedy Space Center as technicians filled the rocket with liquid propellants and tested systems short of firing the engines.
This article has been updated to include comment from SpaceX spoksperson John Taylor.