Date:7 February 2018
After much anticipation SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket launched successfully on 6 February from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.
Billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX corporation made history as the first private company, rather than a government space agency, to send a rocket this powerful into space.
Following the successful launch, two of the boosters returned to each to land simultaneously south of Kennedy, Florida (this is also captured in the video above).
BBC News quotes Elon Musk as saying, “That was epic. That’s probably the most exciting thing I’ve ever seen, literally,” after watching the two boosters make contact with the ground.
The third, middle booster was meant to land on a drone ship but only one of the three engines it needed to land reignited, causing the booster to crash into the water at 500km/h about 90m from the ship. As a result, two of the drone ship’s engines were destroyed when the booster made impact.
According the The Verge, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a press call after the rocket launch. “[It] was enough to take out two thrusters and shower the deck with shrapnel,” he said.
The Falcon Heavy is designed to deliver a maximum payload to low-Earth orbit of 64 tonnes but for this test mission, Musk decided to send is own red Tesla Roadster, an electric sports, into space. The Tesla was meant to end upend up orbiting Mars. Strapped into the driver’s seat of the sports car is a mannequin, known as ‘Starman’ and the radio is set to play play a David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” on repeat, until he radio fails eventually. Unfortunately the rocket overshot the Mars orbit and is heading for an asteroid belt.
Watch a portion of the post-launch press conference with Elon Musk here.