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Tesla Roadster gets an out of this world experience!

07 February 2018

SpaceX targeted launch of the Falcon Heavy Test Flight on February 6, with Elon Musk’s midnight-cherry Tesla Roadster as a passenger.

Falcon Heavy demo mission - payload (Credit: SpaceX)

At lift off, Falcon Heavy was the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two, with 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.

Falcon Heavy's first stage was composed of three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores whose 27 Merlin engines together generate more than 5 million pounds of thrust at lift off, equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft. Only the Saturn V moon rocket, last flown in 1973, delivered more payload to orbit.

For this test flight, Falcon Heavy’s two side cores are both flight-proven. One launched the Thaicom 8 satellite in May 2016 and the other supported the CRS-9 mission in July 2016. SpaceX will attempt to land all three of Falcon Heavy’s first stage cores during this test. Following booster separation, Falcon Heavy’s two side cores will attempt to land at SpaceX’s Landing Zones 1 and 2 (LZ-1 and LZ-2) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Falcon Heavy’s center core will attempt to land on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

The payload for Falcon Heavy’s demonstration mission was SpaceX CEO and Lead Designer Elon Musk’s midnight-cherry Tesla Roadster. Demonstration missions like this one typically carry steel or concrete blocks as mass simulators, but SpaceX decided it would be more worthwhile to launch something fun and without irreplaceable sentimental value: a red Roadster for the red planet. Following launch, Falcon Heavy’s second stage will attempt to place the Roadster into a precessing Earth-Mars elliptical orbit around the sun.

You can watch the test flight and a simulation of what happened during flight at www.spacex.com/webcast

Dr Colin Brown, Director at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said about the launch of Elon Musk’s reusable super heavy-lift launch vehicle Falcon Heavy:

“The maiden voyage of the enormous 70m rocket funded by Elon Musk is an exciting and ambitious project which pushes engineering to its utmost limits.

“The Falcon Heavy is a real behemoth; at lift-off it will create a combined thrust equivalent to approximately 18 Boeing 747 airplanes taking off. The engineering behind it is really awe-inspiring.

“With the launch of such a complex machine, there are always risks, but the rocket completed a static fire test earlier in January, when the Falcon Heavy successfully ignited its engines while still strapped to the launch pad, I remain hopeful that this remarkable project will be successful.”

Video courtesy of SpaceX


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