SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Finally Launched Elon Musk's Tesla Into Space

Tuesday, 06 February 2018 - 6:31PM
Space
SpaceX
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 - 6:31PM
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Finally Launched Elon Musk's Tesla Into Space
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SpaceX
It's finally happened. After years of work (and more than a few failed experiments), SpaceX's brand new Falcon Heavy rocket has launched, heading out into space from launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

A commercial spaceship, the Falcon Heavy is the largest, most powerful rocket to be constructed since NASA's Saturn V, which was built back in the 1960s. This brand new rocket's 27 engines are capable of generating up to five million pounds of thrust, allowing to carry up to cargo weighing up to a 141,000 pounds (64,000 kilograms, or 8 large elephants).

SpaceX hopes that the Falcon Heavy will signal the start of a new era of private sector space travel, in which companies invest heavily in the financial opportunities afforded by shipping things both off-world and back home again. But for this maiden voyage, the rocket had a somewhat more frivolous mission: Elon Musk decided to show off his wealth by launching a red Tesla Roadster, supposedly his own private car, on a trajectory that should put it in orbit around Mars.




This initial flight proves that the Falcon Heavy is capable of completing missions for SpaceX, and as such, the rocket will soon be available for transporting commercial payloads, such as satellites, into orbit. According to Musk, the company should be ready to strap the first paid cargo to the Falcon Heavy within the next three to six months.

For now, it's simply launching a car into space. The Tesla also contains "Starman", a mannequin dressed in one of SpaceX's fancy sci-fi inspired spacesuits, and a message on the dashboard reading "Don't Panic" in large friendly letters, a reference to Douglas Adams' famous Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.



Musk has stated in the past that he hopes this car will serve to confuse a race of alien visitors who come across our solar system once our species has long since gone extinct, but in the meantime, it's clear that the Roadster is meant as a declaration of ownership. Musk has his sights set on carving out a piece of Martian real estate for a future colony, and the delivery of the Tesla into orbit around the Red Planet seems to be his way of calling dibs.

As far as more terrestrial endeavors are concerned, SpaceX already has plenty to do, with several big shipments of cargo to pick up and lift off-world. The Falcon Heavy is already lined up to deliver a commercial satellite into orbit a little later this year, and there's also a mission for the US Air Force on the books.

The plan is for SpaceX missions to cost customers around $90 million, which is a steep increase from the $60 million cost attached to hiring the Falcon 9, but depending on the size of the cargo that clients want to launch, this may end up being a significant saving opportunity for those who deal with money in these increments.



As for the rest of us, we can only hope that the successful launch of the Falcon Heavy will help galvanize the space industry, as companies work towards taking advantage of SpaceX's big rocket in order to launch payloads into space that will directly impact our lives in a positive manner.

If nothing else, it's going to be easier to get big, expensive satellites into orbit, which is good news if the GPS signal in your area is a little wobbly.
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