It’s no secret that we’ve been excited by the prospect of Elon Musk’s Falcon Heavy test flight, which looked set to pave the way for mankind to head to other planets — provided the rockets didn’t detonate on the launchpad… or in flight… or on landing… or… Look, a lot could have gone wrong. As it happened, most of it didn’t.
The launch of the Falcon Heavy went off mostly without a hitch, sending the three Falcon 9 boosters that comprise Falcon Heavy off into space for its inaugural test-flight. Both side rocket boosters returned to Earth to successfully land, almost simultaneously, on er… land — one of the most impressive sights we’ve seen in a very long time.
The final booster was supposed to land on an ocean-based drone barge. An equipment failure saw the booster splash down near the barge while moving at about 300 miles per hour (about 485km/h). Only one of the three engines required for landing ignited and the resulting crash took out two of the drone barge’s engines. Still, two out of three works out a lot cheaper than it all used to be.
The Falcon Heavy payload, Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster, has since been sent on a trip past Mars — the launch went a little too well — towards the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It was intended to wind up a lot closer to Mar but it has overshot its mark. There will be a little science taking place to determine exactly where it’s going to end up.
And if you missed the various live streams SpaceX has the launch and landing up online (modified with some extra info not seen in the actual live-stream), as well as the recorded feed from Starman, the dashing dummy piloting Elon’s Roadster into space, as he travels over the planet. Go on, you don’t have much to do for the next five hours, right?
Amazingly Elon Musk believes that the Falcon Heavy is far too small to get humans to Mars but if he’s the one thinking along those lines then we believe him. The upcoming BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) will comprise 31 Raptor rockets boosting a 48-metre high structure into space. Perhaps that’ll be large enough to make Mr. Musk happy. We can’t wait to see that one launch. For now the success of the Falcon Heavy is enough to make us all very pleased.