It would be hard to say that Elon Musk lacks ambition. The billionaire tech giant has used his car company, Tesla, to revolutionize electric vehicles, while his company, Space X, has been doing the same for space exploration.
Yesterday afternoon, he combined the two in spectacular fashion. There were several successes and a couple failures. But, even when things don't go according to plan, sometimes it's still worth talking about. So let's do just that!
The biggest rocket yet
Yesterday at Cape Canaveral, Florida was the test flight of the Falcon Heavy. Space X has already made headlines with its Falcon 9 rocket, which are the world's first reusable booster rockets. The Falcon Heavy is literally three Falcon 9s put together. (And in this instance, two of the three rockets were reused from previous launches.) The purpose of this is to be able to send even larger payloads, or cargos, into space. Experts believe this power will make future missions to the Moon and Mars easier to pull off.
Two out of three ain't bad
And how did the Falcon Heavy perform, you ask? At first, exceptionally. The launch itself went off without a hitch. And when it came time for the first two boosters to detach and return to Earth? Well, check this out...
That's right. Both rockets landed side-by-side in perfect synchronization (or togetherness...awwwww, they're buddies)! As you can tell by the cheering, people at Space X were pretty pumped. And if you watched to the end, you would've also heard them discuss the centre core booster rocket, which was supposed to land separately on a floating landing pad.
Unfortunately, this Falcon's flight was not so true. It crashed about 300 metres (1,000 ft) away into ocean after only one of the three engines necessary for landing lit up. Still, all in all, this was a remarkable day. Space X proved that its mega-rocket can send heavier cargo into orbit than ever before.
Oh yeah, what exactly was that cargo, anyway?
Starman goes for a drive
Hold on. What am I looking at? Is that a car? In space?
Yep. Space X actually sent a cherry red Tesla sports car into space with a dummy dressed in a spacesuit in the driver's seat. And the dummy's name? Starman. We're not making any of this up.
Very soon after the launch, Space X live streamed views from the passenger seat. Because, wow. And where exactly is Starman and his car going? It was supposed to be Mars. But a slight malfunction (which is all it takes in space for things to go wrong) means that it's now headed toward the asteroid belt. Which, well...okay, it's not Mars, but it's still kinda neat!
Anyway, to recap — Space X launches its biggest rockets ever, successfully recovers two of three of them, and sends a car on its way to a bunch of asteroids. Not bad, Mr. Musk. Not bad.