On Feb. 6, a rocket carrying a Tesla Roadster was shot into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The project was first announced in 2011, making it a highly anticipated launch. Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, hopes that the launch, “[will make] people excited about space again,” he said in an interview with The Verge.
The goal of the launch was to see if the Falcon Heavy rocket could put objects into orbit. Despite a slight mishap where it didn’t land on a checkpoint drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean, the rocket continued on its path, set for a trajectory near Mars.
Alternatively, the Falcon Heavy went way beyond Mars.
Musk tweeted later on that night that the trip was successful; however, the rocket stretched farther than they had imagined – now, the rocket could reach the asteroid belt.
Loren Grush, writer for The Verge, explained what makes the rocket so special.
“It…now holds the title for the most powerful rocket,” she stated. “It [has] 27 engines, which together can create 5 million pounds of thrust at takeoff.”
“The Falcon Heavy can put 140,000 pounds of cargo into lower Earth orbit…this could open up entirely new businesses for SpaceX – launching heavy national security satellites or even large modules of people into deep space,” Grush continued.
Bill Nye, a strong supporter of SpaceX, expressed in the same interview that, “it really is a fantastic idea…rockets should be like airplanes. You [should] reuse them…it’s visionary.”
Despite the steep price needed to innovate space travel (an earlier rocket launched 32 tons for between $300-$500 million), Musk told reporters, “we’re making great progress.”
With plans to launch another Falcon Heavy in the next 9 months, Musk’s end goal is to be able to colonize Mars by 2022.
“We went through various ideas — do a Kickstarter, collecting underpants. These didn’t pan out. But now we think we’ve got a way to do it,” Musk said regarding financial capability.
With such astounding technological advancements being made, the future doesn’t seem so far away.