When Falcon Heavy lifted off, it was 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 can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost. Falcon Heavy draws upon the proven heritage and reliability of Falcon 9. Its first stage is composed of three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores whose 27 Merlin engines together generate more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft. Only the Saturn V moon rocket, last flown in 1973, delivered more payload to orbit. Falcon Heavy was designed from the outset to carry humans into space and restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars.
Here’s the Animation of What Musk Envisions Set to David Bowie’s “Life on Mars:”
The Falcon Rocket successfully launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Tuesday, February 6,2018 from a launch pad used for the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon and several Space Shuttle missions. Elon Musk had said it was unclear how the three rockets will behave next to each other and their proximity could result in a spectacular failure. But the Falcon Rocket launch was a total success.
In addition, there’s an original Tesla Roadster sitting atop the Falcon Heavy. As long as the rocket doesn’t explode, the Roadster will be sent on a wide orbit around Mars. Musk revealed a new wrinkle in this plan on the call: Instead of separating the car from the rocket’s third stage shortly after leaving Earth’s atmosphere, the third stage (and the car aboard it) will instead enter a six-hour “coast” through the Van Allen radiation belts.
The goal is to demonstrate a new capability to the Air Force and other potential military customers. But it comes with some risk. “[The rocket stage is] going to experience a lot of radioactivity and high energy particles.
It’s going to get whacked pretty hard,” Musk said. “The fuel could freeze, and the oxygen could be vaporize, all of which could inhibit the third burn which is necessary for [the Tesla’s] trans-Mars injection.”
If something goes wrong during this time, the rocket stage — and the Roadster — might never fully escape Earth orbit, and would instead eventually burn up in our atmosphere.
But if all goes well, the rocket stage will eject the Roadster on a path toward Mars. At that point, Musk said he’s not worried about the Roadster’s health. The car has a “tiny, tiny chance” of crashing into Mars, Musk says. “It will be fine. I hope.” Also, there are three cameras strapped to the car. It’s not clear what they’ll capture.