Enlarge / SpaceX has released the first image of its Falcon Heavy rocket. (credit: SpaceX)

On Wednesday afternoon SpaceX released the first photo of actual hardware for the Falcon Heavy rocket—the interstage, which connects the first and second stages of booster—and the photo included the massive launch vehicle's official logo. Published on Instagram, the photo included this caption: "Falcon Heavy interstage being prepped at the rocket factory. When FH flies next year, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two."

Ars understands that the new photo does not augur any kind of major announcement regarding a Falcon Heavy launch—at least not yet. A company official told Ars last week that SpaceX is now targeting "early-to-mid" 2017 for the launch of the massive rocket, which would indeed immediately become the most powerful operational booster on the planet, doubling the capacity of the Delta IV Heavy.

But could the long-delayed rocket actually be close to flying? A photo of real hardware offers a positive sign that the rocket may indeed be getting closer to the launch pad. And the fact that the Falcon Heavy's pad at Launch Complex 39A in Florida is now almost ready for use also lends credence to the fact that the long-promised booster may soon fly.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments