SpaceX Succeeds In First Launch Of Falcon Heavy Rocket
SpaceX successfully launched the Falcon Heavy Rocket on Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 6) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
This is the first time that the private company has sent a rocket this powerful into space.
Falcon Heavy is now the most powerful commercial rocket. It is even more powerful and capable of lifting more weight than the biggest rockets of its competitors — United Launch Alliance and Arianespace.
Launch of the Falcon Heavy was initially delayed by high-altitude winds.
During the test launch, the Falcon Heavy rocket carried SpaceX founder Elon Musk's red Tesla Roadster and a mannequin wearing a SpaceX spacesuit. Falcon Heavy was able to put the Roadster in orbit around the sun. It is expected to stay in orbit for hundreds of millions of years.
The orbit of the car would be elliptical and reach out as far as Mars's orbit.
This launch could be seen as a first step for Elon Musk to send people to Mars. Musk is planning to start manned missions to the red planet in the mid-2020s. His design for the powerful rocket, which he calls the BFR. (Big Falcon Rocket) has taken another step to reality, and it would be more powerful than the Falcon Heavy.
A Powerful Launch
Falcon Heavy is more than 21 stories tall. It flew unmanned in its first launch. Musk was wary of the launch, saying that things could go wrong. To construct the rocket, SpaceX used three Falcon 9 rockets that have been used in successful cargo launches. With the three rockets, Falcon Heavy had 27 engines.
During liftoff, Falcon Heavy created 5 million pounds of thrust. It's able to lift 140,000 pounds to low-Earth orbit, making it more capable than any rocket available today.
Costs for launches are lower than competitors' because all three of the boosters used during launch are recovered to be used for more flights. SpaceX lists the cost of a Falcon Heavy flight at $90 million. Eight minutes after the launch, the two side boosters from the rocket returned to Earth.
What's Next For SpaceX?
After the successful flight, Musk said that there's a good chance SpaceX would be doing another Falcon Heavy launch soon. He said that the company would be three to six months away from a second Falcon Heavy launch.
The success of the Falcon Heavy launch could show NASA that they may be able to use the rocket for spaceflight. NASA uses an even bigger and more expensive rocket, the Space Launch System. It is being developed to get people back on the surface of the moon.