The Falcon Heavy - Our Ticket to Mars



Perhaps the most important moment in human history occurred yesterday when the Falcon Heavy released a Tesla Roadster into orbit. Not because there's a Tesla that will be in orbit for the next few hundred million years - but because the world's biggest rocket successfully blasted off. The Falcon Heavy beats its competition for being the most powerful operational rocket in the world by two. It has the ability to lift into orbit 141,000 lb - which already weighs more than a 737 plane stocked with a crew, luggage, passengers, and, of course, fuel. The Falcon Heavy can carry twice the payload of the Delta IV Heavy at one-third of the cost. The ultimate goal of this rocket is to get humans to Mars.


Musk is reusing rockets


In order to get to space - the Falcon Heavy was assisted by two outer boosters as well as the middle core. Although the outer boosters successfully landed home - the middle core was only able to relight one of the three engines necessary to land. So, flying in at 300 mph and about 300 feet from where it was supposed to land the center core crashed. Musk said, "[It] was enough to take out two thrusters and shower the deck with shrapnel." The good news is a tremendous amount of data was collected to improve this.



There's a car in space?


Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, perhaps thought of the most brilliant marketing stunt to date. Anyone with an Internet connection should see the video of the Falcon Heavy blasting into orbit if you haven't the techchat team created a video to summarize the best parts. Nonetheless, having a few billion people on earth see Tesla -- well played Elon. The Roadster was filmed for about 6 hours on a path to reach the asteroid belt, which is pretty close to the dwarf planet Ceres. It's unclear if the car will ever hit anything in space - but engraved on the car was "Made by Humans on Earth" in case of aliens stumbling upon it. The red car, along with a dummy in the driver's seat named "Starman", were targeting an elliptical, or egg-shaped, orbit around the sun that would at times get close to Mars. On Tuesday night Musk tweeted that the vehicle's trajectory had "exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt."


So what's next?


The next launch of the Falcon Heavy won't be for "three to six months," according to Elon. The success of Falcon Heavy flights strongly depends on two things, Musk said: the rate at which the company can produce the center section of the rocket and customer demand. The outer boosters are easy to produce because they're just Falcon 9 boosters with nose cones attached. The Falcon Heavy's center core uses the same engines as a Falcon 9 booster, but the rest of the metal tube, known as the rocket's airframe, has to be upgraded for each flight. So the greatest obstacle lies in how fast the SpaceX team can build the rocket.