Elon Musk has finally done it. SpaceX has successfully launched its most powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy, into orbit from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Countless spectators and well-wishers gathered at the launch area and the landing pads hoping to witness the historic event for space travel, and they were not disappointed. The test launch of the gigantic rocket was a make or break situation for SpaceX as its success would essentially make them the go-to company for orbital transport.
According to a report from the BBC, Musk himself had previously expressed his doubts about the successful launch of the Falcon Heavy. The CEO stated that he actually expected a giant explosion on the launch pad and that even clearing the pad itself would have been considered a success. Fortunately, everything went according to plan and the powerful rocket didn’t just leave the launch pad without issue, but it also successfully separated all of its three-stage boosters. Two of the side boosters successfully landed near the Florida coast, with both of its landing legs touching the ground almost at the same time. The simultaneous landing of both boosters looked like a scene from a big budget science fiction film, which Musk even described as the “most exciting thing” he’s ever seen.
For the particular test launch, Musk had chosen to strap in his own red Tesla Roadster on board the rocket’s upper stage module. Inside the car is a mannequin dressed in a space suit strapped to the driver’s seat. Musk also chose to have David Bowie’s Space Oddity playing on a loop on the car’s stereo. The cargo is set to be launched in an elliptical orbit around the Sun, which will also take it very close to the planet Mars.
Third burn successful. Exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt. pic.twitter.com/bKhRN73WHF— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 7, 2018
Apart from being the most powerful rocket currently in use, next to the Apollo 11’s Saturn V rocket, the Falcon Heavy’s biggest advantage is its reusability. The fact that most of the rocket’s components can be reused means that there is a significantly lower cost of bringing cargo to space. Musk even joked that it’s literally “game-over for all other heavy-lift rockets.”
View from SpaceX Launch Control. Apparently, there is a car in orbit around Earth. pic.twitter.com/QljN2VnL1O— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 6, 2018
The Falcon Heavy rocket is also capable of bringing a lot of stuff into low-Earth orbit, approximately 64 tons worth of stuff. The large cargo capacity and low cost of the rocket essentially means that SpaceX will now able to launch larger satellites into orbit for both private companies and governments. The successful launch of the rocket also means that Musk is one step closer to achieving his dream of building a human colony on Mars.