Today, at nearly 3:45 PM EST, SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket; the biggest operational rocket in the world; boosted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Despite experiencing a few minor lags caused by weather; the launch went nearly perfectly. After securely delivering its gaudy payload (Elon Musk’s cherry-red Tesla roadster); the rocket’s first two stages fell back to Earth and spectacularly landed themselves — touching down at Cape Canaveral almost concurrently.
SpaceX nailed the Falcon Heavy Rocket launch, but didn’t quite stick the landing
Shortly after, the third booster fell back and attempted to land itself on SpaceX’s autonomous drone-ship, Of Course, I Still Love You; in the Atlantic ocean — but perversely, something went wrong. According to comments made by Elon Musk during a press conference held after the launch; the focus core didn’t have enough fuel to re-ignite all nine of its Merlin engines during the final landing burn. As such, it crashes landed and was destroyed.
Not one to shy away from lemon, Musk commented on the crash with some dry banter; telling journalists, “if the cameras didn’t get blown up as well; we’d put that up in a blooper reel or something.”
Despite the fate of the Falcon Heavy Rocket’s central core; this historic performance bodes well for the prospect of SpaceX. Unlike the company’s smaller Falcon 9 rockets; the Falcon Heavy is intended to carry larger payloads. According to SpaceX; the rocket possesses the “ability to lift into orbit nearly 64 metric tons (141,000 lb) — a mass greater than a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage, and fuel.”
Crucially, the Falcon Heavy Rocket can carry these payloads into orbit not only around Earth but also to the Moon and Mars. SpaceX positively isn’t the only space launch provider in the world that’s competent of carrying payloads to the Moon and Mars — but because the Falcon Heavy Rocket’s first grade boosters are able to land, recover, and reuse; SpaceX should be able to handle these large rocket launches at a considerably lower cost than its rivals.
Reducing the cost of rocket launches is crucial if we ever desire to explore the Moon and colonize Mars — something that SpaceX CEO Elon Musk believes will be plausible in the next few years.