Made on Earth by humans: Falcon Heavy launched

09 February 2018

Credit: Getty Images

On February 6th, SpaceX launched the Falcon Heavy, the most powerful operational rocket in the world – by a factor of 2.

The Falcon Heavy has the ability to lift more than twice the payload of the next vehicle, at one-third the cost, and even has reusable rockets – reflective of Elon Musk and many other's hopes of making space travel more practical and affordable.

The mission's first stage consisted of three cores, and its side cores (or boosters), are connected to the centre core – both at its base and at the vehicle’s interstage. With these three cores, the super heavy-lift launch vehicle (SHLLV), with its 27 Merlin engines, can generate more than 5 million pounds of thrust.

Demonstration missions such as this typically carry steel or concrete blocks as mass simulators, but SpaceX decided it would be more worthwhile to launch something fun and more close to their heart: a red Roadster – for the red planet.

Following its launch, Falcon Heavy’s second stage will attempt to place the Roadster into a precessing Earth-Mars elliptical orbit around the sun. You can read up, live, on the rocket’s progress here: www.whereisroadster.com, and watch the test flight and simulation at www.spacex.com/webcast.

Further putting their own spin on the mission, Tesla revealed soon after the launch, that the Tesla Roadster – with its Starman dummy 'driver' in tow, has a circuit board inscribed with the words: *Made on Earth by humans*. The vehicle will travel in-orbit, for potentially billions of years with this message intact.

Credit: Tesla

It was after many years of delays and complications, that this launch was successful. Said Musk: “We tried to cancel the Falcon Heavy program three times at SpaceX, because it [was] way harder than we thought.

“Crazy things can come true. When I see a rocket lift off, I see a thousand things that could not work, and it's amazing when they do.”


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