Mon, 19 Nov 2018

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy soars in maiden test flight

By Sheetal Sukhija, Manila News
08 Feb 2018, 05:34 GMT+10

CALIFORNIA, U.S. - Launching the world’s most powerful rocket on Tuesday, SpaceX’s Flacon Heavy blasted off on its maiden test flight, as the mission control in Cape Canaveral in Florida burst in to applause. 

On Tuesday, the massive rocket, Falcon Heavy fired its 27 engines and rumbled to power, carrying SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s cherry red Tesla Roadster and a mannequin in a spacesuit toward an orbit near Mars. 

Speaking to reporters post the launch, Musk said, "The mission went as well as one could have hoped,” adding that it was "probably the most exciting thing I have seen literally ever."

He added, “I had this image of a giant explosion on the pad with a wheel bouncing down the road with the Tesla logo landing somewhere. Fortunately that is not what happened."

SpaceX even hosted a webcast which showed the Tesla Roadster soaring into space, as David Bowie's "Space Oddity" played in the background.

The words ‘Don’t Panic’ were visible on the dashboard, in an apparent nod to the sci-fi series the ‘Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.’

Further, Musk too posted a live video showing the "Starman" mannequin appearing to cruise, its gloved hand on the wheel, through the darkness of space, with the Earth's image reflected on the car's glossy red surface.

Musk added the if the Roadster survives its five-hour journey through the Van Allen Belt, which is a region of high radiation where it will be pelted with charged particles, it will attempt a final burn toward Mars.

He said the car would then enter an orbit around the Sun that brings it close to Mars, on a journey that could last a billion years and take it as far as 250 million miles (400 million kilometres) from Earth.

Musk told reporters, “Maybe it will be discovered by some future alien race. What were these guys doing? Did they worship this car?"

According to experts, the launch was integral as it was likely catch the eye of the U.S. space agency NASA, which may consider using the Falcon Heavy as a way to fast-track its plans to reach the Moon again for the first time since 1972.

In a statement, acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot congratulated SpaceX and called it a "tremendous accomplishment."

Meanwhile, Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana said, “The successful launch of a new vehicle on its first flight is a significant accomplishment they can be very proud of."

Further, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield said in a tweet, "What we're watching is @SpaceX leaving all other rocket companies in the dust. Congrats to everyone there!"

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