What’s the Falcon Heavy? Why did it launch a car into space? Who was at the wheel? Isn’t the car space junk? Was there a point to all this beyond vanity?
An animation of the Falcon Heavy lifting off. Credit: SpaceX
Elon Musk has stepped closer to his vision of settling humans on Mars within the next two decades. In the early hours of February 7 (IST), SpaceX launched its first Falcon Heavy rocket, the largest and most powerful functional rocket in the world today, from Pad 39A at Cape Canaveral, Florida. After the launch, both first-stage boosters returned safely to ground.
In its maiden voyage, the Heavy carried a model of the Tesla Roadster, with a mannequin at the wheel decked up in a new SpaceX spacesuit. Here’s an FAQ to guide you through some of the more trickier details.
What is the Falcon Heavy?
Technically, the Falcon Heavy is three Falcon 9 rockets. Each Falcon 9 has nine engines. The Falcon Heavy has one core rocket – a Falcon 9 – flanked by two more Falcon 9s to boost its lift. According to SpaceX, the Heavy can lift 64,000 kg into low-Earth orbit (at most ~2,000 km high). ...