NEW DELHI, Feb 07 – SpaceX Falcon Heavy, the world’s most powerful rocket, was launched today from the Kennedy Space Centre in the United States’ Florida toward an orbit near Mars. The mission is a test flight, pioneered by rocket firm SpaceX which is helmed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk. What’s interesting about this “monster” rocket is that it is loaded with Mr Musk’s own red Tesla roadster and a playlist consisting of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity with the words “DON’T PANIC” visible on the dashboard. At the wheel is a mannequin dressed in a spacesuit nicknamed Starman. It is the first time that a car is being sent to the space. In another first, SpaceX managed to guide at least two of the Falcon Heavy’s first-stage rocket boosters to land upright back on Earth.
Here are 10 Facts About SpaceX Falcon Heavy:
- The SpaceX Falcon Heavy launched from the same NASA pad that was the base for the Apollo-era Moon missions of the 1960s and 1970s.
- Falcon Heavy is the most powerful operational rocket in the world with the ability to lift into orbit nearly 64 metric tons – a mass greater than a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel, says the SpaceX website.
- Falcon Heavy has the ability to lift more than twice the payload of the next vehicle, at one-third the cost. Only the Saturn V moon rocket, last flown in 1973, delivered more payload to orbit.
- Falcon Heavy is essentially three smaller, Falcon 9 rockets strapped together, adding up to a total of 27 engines.
- With these 27 Merlin engines, Falcon Heavy’s three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores are capable of generating more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff.
- If the Tesla roadster survives its five-hour journey through the Van Allen Belt – a region of high radiation where it will be pelted with charged particles – it will attempt a final burn toward Mars, Mr Musk said.
- The Tesla roadster was also outfitted with a data storage unit containing Isaac Asimov’s science fiction book series, the Foundation Trilogy, and a plaque bearing the names of 6,000 SpaceX employees.
- Elon Musk said that SpaceX Falcon Heavy was initially intended to restore the possibility of sending humans to the Moon or Mars, but those plans have shifted and now the Falcon Heavy is being considered mainly as a potential equipment carrier to these deep space destinations.
- After Falcon Heavy’s launch, SpaceX announced that his company is working on a giant new rocket dubbed as BFR or Big Falcon Rocket that could send cargo and crew ships to Mars or Moon.
- SpaceX has landed 21 of its Falcon 9 boosters so far. The first cargo shipments could make it to Mars in 2022, SpaceX has said. – NDTV