After many years and plenty of setbacks, the moment is fast arriving for SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket, the most powerful rocket the world has seen since the Saturn V lifted off for the Apollo missions around 50 years ago. New photos shared by company show a complete Falcon Heavy upright and ready to roll on the launchpad, with a certain CEO's cherry red Tesla parked inside as the payload.
"Test flights of new rockets usually contain mass simulators in the form of concrete or steel blocks," Elon Musk wrote in Instagram just before Christmas. "That seemed extremely boring. Of course, anything boring is terrible, especially companies, so we decided to send something unusual, something that made us feel. The payload will be an original Tesla Roadster, playing Space Oddity, on a billion year elliptic Mars orbit."
Not that he really needs to, all his world-changing companies are audacious enough on their own, but Musk sure is good at drumming up publicity. He first tweeted about blasting his midnight cherry red Tesla Roadster into space in early December, and photos shared on SpaceX's Flickr suggest that it is indeed beyond the point of no-return.
Others shared on Twitter this week show the Falcon Heavy standing tall on the launchpad at the Kennedy Space Center. It will take off from the same pad used by the Saturn V rocket, with its first launch to take place sometime this month.
Built to one day carry humans to Mars, the Falcon Heavy is essentially three Falcon 9 first stages strapped together, with a second stage fitted to the top of the middle one. The nine engines in each work together to produce a maximum thrust of 5.1 million pounds, equal to eighteen 747s. Two of those first stages will be returning to the space base, while the third will land on the droneship.
That's if they don't explode. Musk has previously said if the rocket makes it far enough from the pad to avoid pad damage, he would consider that a win. Whatever does happen, the Falcon Heavy launch is sure to make for a thrilling spectacle.
Source: SpaceX (Flickr)
Want a cleaner, faster loading and ad free reading experience?
Try New Atlas Plus. Learn more