SpaceX, manufacturer and launcher of advanced spacecrafts, just successfully launched the most powerful rocket into space since the Saturn V, whose first flight was in 1967. This rocket, named the Falcon Heavy, launched on February 6th, and SpaceX claims that the Falcon Heavy can carry about 64 metric tons into space. However, it costs a whopping 90-million dollars to purchase a launch for the Falcon Heavy. One of the most interesting features about the Falcon Heavy is that it is made to be a reusable rocket. This means that all parts of the flight must go well, and there must be features that allow it to land properly, have specific launch systems, have re-entry heat shields, and have other features. The good thing about having these rockets reusable is that it eliminates the cost and time to build a new rocket.
An interesting factor in this first orbit for the Falcon Heavy is that Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, sent his Tesla Roadster on the orbit, - with a mannequin sitting inside of it. This is to test the SpaceX’s ability to carry payload. Additionally, sending the car into space allows SpaceX to tell their customers how much the payload and gear will move around. It was planned that the Tesla Roadster on the demo flight would orbit past Mars. This demo flight was considered a success, but two things did not go to plan. First, one of the center cores missed its landing and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. Second, one of the engine’s burn was stronger than anticipated, so rather than the Roadster orbiting Mars, it extends past that and is orbiting near the asteroid belt.
The Falcon Heavy is actually made of two different stages. The first stage, at the bottom of the rocket, is made of 3 cores, totaling to 27 different engines. During takeoff, these engines produce a total of 5.13 million pounds of thrust, and this is what allows the Falcon Heavy to launch even with so much weight. The upper, or second stage, includes a single engine that delivers the rocket’s payload to orbit once the main engines have been cut off.
Source: Digital Trends
The main goal that SpaceX has is to support flying people to Mars or to the Moon. In fact, SpaceX has lined up many different future plans and launches. Their goal is to launch a cargo mission to Mars in 2022, and then send a crew and cargo in 2024. From this, SpaceX hopes to be able to start building a Mars base. Additionally, SpaceX plans to launch the Falcon Heavy again in three to six months - and even launch astronauts on the company’s other rockets, the Dragon and Falcon 9. Although the Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket, SpaceX plans to use what is called the BFR in the future. This rocket is still being developed, but this is the rocket that SpaceX wants to help with sending people to Mars. It is also a possibility that the BFR could be used for Earth to Earth transportation, as long distance trips could be completed in half an hour. The BFR could also be used for moon missions, satellites, or for space station missions. It is exciting to see space exploration hitting new milestones, it we cannot wait to see what this push to reach Mars will result in.
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