Falcon Heavy launch: Space X has an almost perfect day

You’ve probably seen some clips of the Space X launch that took place today already but if not you really did miss something pretty spectacular. The launch was successful though it appears one of the three boosters did not land itself properly. Still, the image of the two boosters landing themselves simultaneously on adjacent landing pads seemed unreal. And then on top of that, there was the cargo for this test launch: Elon Musk’s own Tesla Roadster with “Spaceman” at the wheel (actually Space X’s own space suit design). From Space.com:

Standing 23 stories tall, the Falcon Heavy rocket is SpaceX’s largest rocket yet and the most powerful booster since NASA’s mighty Saturn V moon rocket. Its first stage is powered by three core boosters based on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets, with 27 engines (nine per booster) firing in unison to produce about 5 million lbs. of thrust (22,819 kilonewtons) at liftoff…

SpaceX has now successfully landed Falcon-family rockets 24 times — three on this mission alone. (The rocket family is named after another famously reusable spaceship, the fictional Millennium Falcon from “Star Wars,” Musk has said.)

But perhaps the biggest draw of today’s launch was the Falcon Heavy’s unique payload: a Tesla Roadster riding atop the rocket’s second stage.

Musk announced in December that the “midnight cherry red” convertible, which he owns, would be the first Falcon Heavy payload. Then, on Monday, he revealed another surprise: a spacesuit-clad mannequin called “Starman”(a reference to David Bowie’s song “Starman”) in the driver’s seat, with its right hand on the wheel and left arm resting on the door.

So to sum up, Musk sent his car to mars with a “driver” named for a David Bowie song on a launch vehicle named after a Star Wars spaceship. Not a bad day if you’re a nerd who enjoys science and science fiction. The full Space X video is below, but if you only have a moment now, watch this because it’s incredible:

Here’s what one of those boosters looked like up close after landing:

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on

As mentioned above, it seems the day didn’t quite go perfectly. The Verge is reporting that the center core, which was supposed to land out at sea, did not make it.

Though the Falcon Heavy’s outer cores successfully landed after launch this afternoon, the middle core of SpaceX’s huge rocket missed the drone ship where it was supposed to land, a source tells The Verge. SpaceX hasn’t yet confirmed this publicly.

Still, Elon Musk is clearly having a very good day today and and who can blame him:

Given the appearance of that convertible in space, I’m wondering if Musk might have had another inspiration. Anyone remember the animated film Heavy Metal?


But the reality is even better than the fantasy. Here’s the full Space X launch video: