Using the historical NASA launch pad that sent the first man to the moon some 50 years ago, SpaceX’s latest accomplishment successfully sent its test payload into the solar system.
Twice as large as its closest competitor and costing one tenth NASA’s equivalent development, the Falcon Heavy demonstrates a new era of what Elon Musk calls “Superheavy” rockets that can transport satellites, as well as astronauts via the Dragon capsule. The two side thrusters that boosted the centre core up into the atmosphere returned and docked safely back on land, whilst Musk’s personal Tesla Roadster on board the rocket continues to make its way towards the neighbourhood of Mars and the Asteroid Belt. The centre booster misfired and sank into the Atlantic, but overall, it was a titanic moment in the history of rocket engineering.
In related news and on the opposite end of the spectrum, Japan successfully launched the world’s smallest satellite-carrying rocket to date.
Image: SpaceX – Falcon Heavy Rocket Demo
This story is taken from the 9 February 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.