SpaceX Successfully Launches Elon Musk's Roadster Toward Mars
It was a perfect launch, as well as a perfect landing two of the three reusable boosters.
Unstable wind conditions led to the delay of SpaceX's launch of its first Falcon Heavy rocket, right up until the end of Tuesday's launch window. But at 3:45 p.m. EST all 27 Merlin engines on the three Falcon 9 first stage rockets ignited, launching the rocket toward space with a rather unique payload—Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster.
Two minutes later, the side boosters shut down and detached, soon followed by the center booster. The side boosters, each of which had already been launched once before, turned around and came in for a picture perfect tandem landing at Kennedy Space Center.
The center booster aimed for a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. It was on track for a good landing when the video from the drone ship cut out, which sometimes happens as a result of the blast from the rocket. Later, The Verge reported that SpaceX confirmed the center core failed to land on the drone ship and was lost. Still, for the first launch of the Falcon Heavy, recovering two out of three boosters isn't bad at all.
Meanwhile, the second stage ignited, and the payload shroud detached, revealing the Roadster and "Starman," the dummy astronaut wearing the new SpaceX spacesuit, in the driver's seat. The infotainment system had a helpful message inspired by Douglas Adams on it: "Don't Panic."
The second stage burned and shut down as planned, putting the spacecraft into low earth orbit. The next step will be another rocket burn to launch it toward its eventual destination, Mars.