Elon Musk's Falcon Heavy rocket launches successfully

  • Elon Musk's Falcon Heavy rocket launches successfully

Elon Musk's Falcon Heavy rocket launches successfully

It cleared the launch pad without blowing up - a feat Musk had said would be enough to deem the mission a win - and continued on to deliver the chief executive officer's cherry red Tesla Roadster toward an Earth-Mars elliptical orbit around the sun.

After clearing the launch pad, something Elon Musk famously stated would be the point after which he considered the launch a success, Falcon Heavy rapidly accelerated on its way to orbit, passing one of the riskiest points of rocketry (Max-Q, peak atmospheric pressure) soon after.

Their visit was further rewarded eight minutes after liftoff when two of the rocket's side cores performed a tandem landing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and generated back-to-back sonic booms during the propulsive descents.

Then came the crescendo.

A SpaceX livestream showed the vehicle cruising through the Van Allen radiation belt in Earth's magnetosphere, with David Bowie's Space Oddity playing in the background and a note on the dashboard saying "Don't Panic".

Before the launch, some had derided the plan to launch a auto into space as a waste, a cross-marketing ploy for Tesla, one of his other companies.

The Falcon Heavy is essentially three Falcon 9s strapped together. The most important thing about this reusable spacecraft is that it can carry a payload equivalent to sending five double-decker London buses into space - which will be invaluable for future manned space exploration or in sending bigger satellites into orbit.

"Seven years ago, the Augustine Commission said that NASA's moon program had to be cancelled, because the development of the necessary heavy lift booster would take 12 years and $36 billion", he said in a statement. "And it's still tripping me out".

The payload was Musk's personal Tesla Roadster, and the idea was to send the red sports vehicle to the Red Planet's orbit.

And finally ... a successful burn to Mars! This will most likely lead to the Tesla being sent into an orbit further into the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars.

While the imagery of Starman went viral, accolades started pouring in.

"Perfect day for a cruise in a ragtop", Arnold tweeted, offering congratulations to SpaceX.

Musk, who was born in South Africa and has since obtained US citizenship, thanked the president in a reply, noting that "an exciting future lies ahead".

Even Musk described it as looking "ridiculous and impossible".

SpaceX installed three cameras on the Tesla that are sending back views of the auto against the backdrop of the Earth.

Last month, Blue Origin successfully conducted a test-fire of the BE-4 rocket engine that is expected to power another rocket called the New Glenn, which is slated to lift off in 2020. And added three rocket emojis.

Analysts say they believe the Tesla owner's aerospace company could change the landscape of the space industry.

"We want a new space race".

Having set a new standard, Musk was ebullient, if overwhelmed.

"I might disable the airbag before I send it", the scientist said instead.

"All of the organics will be subjected to degradation by the various kinds of radiation that you will run into there", Carroll told LiveScience.