SpaceX made history this morming by launching its first Falcon Heavy – and Elon Musk’s personal Tesla Roadster – into space, ushering in a new era for the aerospace company.
At 7:45AM AEDT, and with just 15 minutes left in today’s launch window, the Falcon Heavy thundered upwards from launchpad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, leaving a billowing trail of smoke behind it.
Thousands of onlookers cheered on as the rocket lifted off and drifted out of view. Cameras showed the “core” section of the rocket shedding its two Falcon 9 boosters, which drifted back towards Earth to attempt vertical landings. Following a flip manoeuvre, the late stage booster jettisoned its cargo, performing an atmospheric re-entry prior to its own vertical landing attempt on the barge, Of Course I Still Love You.
It’s too early to know if everything went exactly as SpaceX planned, but given fears of an explosion or crash, today’s events must be considered a big success. The Elon Musk-led company can now prepare for future launches, including commercial contracts that could see a second launch in just a few months.