SpaceX launched it’s biggest rocket Falcon Heavy this week from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral on its highly anticipated first test flight toward an orbit near Mars.
Minutes after launch, two of the Heavy’s booster rockets landed safely on the Cape Canaveral launch pad, CEO Elon Musk has promised will drastically reduce the costs of spaceflight.
The Rocket itself Can Carry much more Payload than other rockets with half the cost than them.
Here are five key facts you need to know about the launch:
- What’s the Payload
The rocket is carrying Musk’s cherry red Tesla Roadster with a dummy in the driver’s seat wearing one of SpaceX’s called “Starman”. Back in December, Musk tweeted that the vehicle would be playing the song “Space Oddity” by David Bowie as it took off and that the glove box would contain a copy of Douglas Adams’ book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” along with a towel and a sign with the words “Don’t Panic,” a reference to the book.
- The Rocket
The rocket’s three “cores,” or boosters, are designed to return to separate landing pads and softly touch down in an upright position. Two returned to Cape Canaveral successfully, but it was not immediately known whether the third had successfully touched down on a drone ship floating at sea. Footage of the two successful landings offered an exquisite act of rocket choreography, and expect someone (maybe us here at DW Sci-Tech) to underlay that footage with some fitting, classical music
- Where it’s going
There seems to be some confusion that the roadster is going to land on Mars. It isn’t. The idea is for the Falcon Heavy to propel the car into an orbit around the sun that approximates the orbit of Mars (but without the risk of it actually crashing into Mars and infecting it with Earth bacteria). There it would remain for quite some time.
- What will happen to Roadster
According to William Carroll, a chemist at Indiana University, it will not be the vacuum of space that will destroy the car it will but the molecular radiation and asteroid belt.
The chemist did, however, say that disabling the airbags and not filling up the washer fluid before it was launched would be advised.
He said: “I’m not so worried about the vacuum itself.
“All of the organics will be subjected to degradation by the various kinds of radiation that you will run into there.
“[Those materials] are made up largely of carbon-carbon bonds and carbon-hydrogen bonds.
“When you cut something with a knife, in the end, you’re cutting some chemical bonds.
“Those organics, in that environment, I wouldn’t give them a year.”
- How much did Falcon Heavy cost?
The unmanned Falcon Heavy cost a staggering $90million, £65million, to be blasted into orbit. That is 45 percent more expensive than the Falcon 9 rocket in 2012.
Despite the cost, SpaceX has said it is actually a competitive price.
They put this down to its reusable rocket parts – the company is the only rocket builder in the world that safely returns first-stage rocket boosters back to Earth.
It is a bargain compared to the Delta IV Heavy, built by legacy aerospace firm United Launch Alliance, which can reportedly cost as much as $400 million per launch.