Published: Sat, February 10, 2018
Science | By Hubert Green

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Rocket

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Rocket

The day after Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk blasted his Tesla Roadster into space, his electric vehicle company's mounting losses brought him back to Earth again.

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, posted a final photo of the Tesla Roadster he launched into space on SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket on Instagram on Wednesday as it heads for Mars orbit and then the asteroid belt.

The Falcon Heavy is now the most powerful operational rocket in the world, and one of most powerful in history. Shortly after the launch, two of the rocket's side boosters fell back to earth and successfully landed so they could be used again. The payload detached and is now on its way toward an orbit past Mars. The United States hasn't been able to send humans to space since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011, relying on other nations to get our astronauts to the International Space Station. The Chinese government has been investing heavily with this aim, and all eyes are now on the Long March 9 rocket, which some are calling China's very own Falcon Heavy. Elon Musk once described the cost difference at a briefing I attended in 2011 this way: Imagine if every time you flew on an airplane, the airline threw away the airplane, how much do you think the flight would cost?

The launch of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket this week has renewed discussion about China's space program.

SpaceX also released a number of impressive still pictures from Starman's voyage.

But it was more than just watching the rocket blast into space that caught our attention.

While SpaceX scored a major success with Falcon Heavy, continued delays by both SpaceX and Boeing have pushed commercial crew service to ISS from 2015 to 2019 or even 2020, forcing continued reliance on single-sourced Russian launch services at ever-escalating prices.

Photographer Walter Scriptunas II took these images of the 229-foot-tall (70-meter) rocket lifting off with almost 5 million pounds of thrust and climbing into a sun-splashed Florida sky.

Third burn successful. Exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt.

The bank's report says that Falcon Heavy is now the most powerful rocket in operation as it can place 26.7 tons of payload into geostationary transfer orbit (Falcon 9 can place 4.85 tons on the reusable version and 8.3 tons on the non-reusable one).

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