SpaceX is poised to make space history once again with the launch its Falcon 9 Heavy rocket carrying a midnight cherry Tesla roadster into a Martian solar orbit.
The blastoff from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center attracted throngs of spectators and was closely followed by the global aerospace industry.
If the weather does not cooperate, or when a few technical glitch postpones the launch, SpaceX has a second opportunity on Wednesday, additionally between 1:30 and 4:00 p.m.
The comapany’s founder, Elon Musk, also tweeted: “Launch auto-sequence initiated (aka the holy mouse-click) for 3:45 liftoff”.
Today’s launch came after a two-hour and 15 minute delay due to high-altitude shear winds that were outside the rocket’s safety parameters.
Why all the buzz for this launch?
No people are on board, just a mannequin wearing a futuristic spacesuit, strapped into CEO Elon Musk’s very own cherry red Tesla vehicle.
SpaceX CEO Musk told reporters before the launch Tuesday he estimated the success rate at 50 percent. Musk explained before the Falcon Heavy demo launch that an in-flight failure, rather than an explosion at 39A, wouldn’t affect SpaceX’s day-to-day and SpaceX “could launch another in three to four months”.
If all goes well, both the boosters and the core rocket should land back on Earth – the boosters on land and the core at sea – as SpaceX rockets have done before, part of the company’s goal of making spaceflight more affordable. Two will attempt a synchronized landing back at Kennedy Space Center, and the third will land on a droneship.
Musk has emphasized that this is a high-risk launch, setting expectations low for a successful maiden flight. The rocket’s first stages often land to be reused in future launches.
Created to have more than twice the lifting capacity of the next closest operational vehicle, United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy, the Falcon Heavy has the ability to lift almost 64 metric tonnes (141,000 lb) into orbit. The vehicle will be sent on an elliptic orbit toward Mars and will then eventually head back toward the sun.
The auto has three cameras which will provide “epic views”, Says Musk. Musk – who also heads up the Tesla electric carmaker – says he wanted to add some dramatic flair.
The launch was originally scheduled to happen last November, then December, and then January and finally was scheduled for Tuesday.