On February 6, 2018, from Launchpad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Falcon Heavy rocket was launched into interplanetary space. Founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk, SpaceX built the rocket that will orbit the sun and eventually escape earth’s atmosphere, cross Mars’ orbit, and then enter the asteroid belt (where it may well meet its demise). All of this is expected to happen over hundreds of millions of years.
Powered by degrees in physics and business, along with billions of dollars (made, in part, as an early investor in PayPal), Musk intends to build rockets that will be reusable. Demonstrating this, the Falcon Heavy’s side boosters were brought back to earth, returning right to the launchpad from whence they were launched.
Musk’s other company is Tesla. And to add to the fun, Musk manned his rocket with “Spaceman,” a mannequin at the wheel of a red Tesla roadster that was blasting David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Posted on the dashboard was the advice: Don’t panic. “It’s silly and fun,” said Musk, “but silly and fun things are important.”
Comedian Stephen Colbert also had fun discussing the launch, crowning Elon Musk “King Nerd,” and calling the Falcon Heavy “a giant phallus cranking rock and roll, releasing a red convertible into the dark void.”
At present, the Falcon Heavy is the world’s most powerful operational rocket. Musk has big plans for future SpaceX rockets, which include human colonization of Mars, and providing the world with global broadband.
Zoe Licata (Boston, Massachusetts)