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08 Febrero 2018, 09:08 | Benedicto Grullon
Tesla automobile hurls into flight on SpaceX rocket
Falcon Heavy is now the most capable rocket in the world by far.
SpaceX was hopeful the rocket and its $200,000 (£143,000) cargo enter a billion year orbit reaching Mars, but it appears the dummy Starman had different plans in mind. The Falcon Heavy has been promoted as providing a cost of roughly US$1,300 per kg of payload, while the space shuttle cost approximately $60,000 per kg.
A mannequin "Starman" sits at the wheel of a Tesla Roadster in this photo posted on the Instagram account of Elon Musk, head of auto company Tesla and founder of the private space company SpaceX.
After liftoff, SpaceX attempted to land all three of Falcon Heavy's boosters back on Earth - two on land and one on the floating platform at sea. Two separated shortly after launch and landed at Cape Canaveral-nearly simultaneously, tails first, and reusable with a little refurbishing. Russian, Chinese and European launch providers have likewise been eclipsed. The launch was a huge success, Musk said, leaving only the fate of SpaceX's Starman and the Roadster up in the air.
The strides Musk has made rendering Falcon 9 launches more routine - SpaceX pulled off a record 18 launches last year- has helped make it one of the word's most richly valued private companies.
Boisterous cheering could be heard from SpaceX workers at the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, California, where a livestream feed of the event originated. Space analysts have projected the actual development cost will exceed $30 billion. So far the company has successfully sent the first privately funded rocket to the International Space Station (2012), and has developed rocket boosters that can be both retrieved and reused.
Other companies are developing their own niches. This week's test flight launched a red Tesla sports vehicle on a path that will take it around the sun and then past Mars.
In the driver's seat of SpaceXCEO Elon Musk's red Tesla Roadster, meanwhile, a mannequin named "Starman" hurtled away from Earth at almost 7 miles a second - certainly a speed record of some kind for a vehicle.
Yesterday's launch, however, was about more than money and marketing.
"People [came] from all around the world to see what will either be a great rocket launch or the best fireworks display they've ever seen", Musk said in an interview with CNN's Rachel Crane Monday.
SpaceX had outfitted the vehicle with three cameras that beamed back stunning images of the ruby red auto soaring through the blackness of space, with the Earth, blue and green and lovely, passing in the background.
Along the way, the South African-born savant is inspiring a new generation. Originally, SpaceX had planned to direct the auto into the orbit of Mars, but the company's latest estimates indicate it will overshoot the red planet and continue into the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Two touched down on land in tandem; the third center core that was slated to settle on an unmanned drone ship ran out of propellant needed to slow down the descent and slammed into the ocean instead.
Tesla sports car now flying toward asteroid belt beyond Mars
Instead, the vehicle will whiz past the Red Planet by a much larger margin than expected and zoom off out into the asteroid belt. The Falcon Heavy launched from the same NASA pad that was the base for the Apollo-era Moon missions of the 1960s and 1970s.
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