On Tuesday, Space X's Falcon Heavy, the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two, successfully lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This is the largest rocket since NASA's Saturn V booster and has the ability to " lift a mass greater than a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel," into orbit, according to Space X.
"I had this image of just a giant explosion on the pad, a wheel bouncing down the road," said Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and Space X. "But fortunately that's not what happened."
According to BBC, the Falcon Heavy is essentially three of SpaceX's workhorse Falcon 9 vehicles strapped together and attempted to return collectively to earth in a controlled landing.
The three-core rocket boasts 27 engines, providing over 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, allowing the vehicle to put more than 140,000 pounds of cargo into lower Earth orbit. That’s more than twice the capability of any rocket currently on the market, according to the Verge.
Two out of three came to touchdown zones south of the Kennedy space center at virtually the same time. The third, however, was unable to slow its descent by re-igniting sufficient engines, and missed the target vessel, destroying the booster engine as it hit the water at some 500km/h.
In addition to such success, a Tesla roadster with a space-suited mannequin named Space Man strapped in the drivers seat, was launched atop of it. Hoping that "it may be discovered by some future alien race," Musk also set a David Bowie soundtrack on loop in the car.
The Verge also reports that the Tesla cruised through space for a good six hours though its' "coast" phase, completing one final engine burn in space, putting the car on its final orbit.
'Third burn successful. Exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt,' tweeted Musk. In addition, Musk also tweeted that the car will get "relatively close" to the dwarf planet Ceres.
"That was epic," said Musk. "That's probably the most exciting thing I've ever seen, literally."
The success of Falcon Heavy also gives NASA future options for developing research, as they has been in the process of developing the Space Launch system, which could be used for lunar missions. Considering the fact that its' first flight isn't set to take place until 2022 and it's projected to cost 10 times as much to fly as Falcon Heavy, Space X offers the market a way that may make human Moon missions more practical and affordable.
“This could make the whole Trump administration initiative to go back to the Moon economically affordable,” Charles Miller, president of space consulting firm NexGen Space LLC and a former member of the Trump administration’s NASA transition team.
Falcon Heavy is set to have two more launches planned for 2018 and an additional one for next year, with plans to send two tourists around the moon 'at some point'.
"Crazy things come true," said Musk.