SpaceX launched the Falcon Heavy jumbo rocket on Tuesday for its first ever test flight. The rocket, which blasted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is now 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 generated more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft. Only the Saturn V moon rocket, which was last flown in 1973, delivered more payload to orbit.
Following booster separation, Falcon Heavy's two side cores successfully and simultaneously landed at SpaceX's Landing Zones 1 and 2 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Falcon Heavy's center core attempted to land on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship in the Atlantic Ocean, but its fate was not immediately known.
Because it is a test flight, the rocket was not carrying anything of value. Instead, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk decided to launch his Tesla Roadster sports car into space. Falcon Heavy's second stage will attempt to place the Roadster into a precessing Earth-Mars elliptical orbit around the sun.
Published on February 06, 2018 - 3:24pm EST