On February 6th, the biggest rocket in the world rumbled to life just 100 miles to the east of us. The Falcon Heavy, the newest edition to the innovative space transportation company SpaceX’s fleet of rockets, could be seen from Palmetto with a pair of binoculars as it blasted skyward at 3:45 on Tuesday.
The flight of the revolutionary rocket almost went off without a hitch. All 27 engines successfully ignited, providing enough thrust to carry almost three times as much cargo into orbit as the American Space Shuttle. A few minutes after launch the two Falcon 9 side boosters detached and flew back to the launch site, landing simultaneously on a pair of landing pads in Cape Canaveral. Half a minute later, the central Falcon Heavy rocket detached and flew towards SpaceX’s drone ship, Of Course I Still Love You, which it missed after two engines failed to reignite for the landing burn. The second stage of the rocket successfully put the rocket’s payload, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk’s car, into an orbit around the sun that will take it into space beyond Mars.
While the Falcon Heavy launch was a fantastic show, it understandably didn’t have a huge impact on most people. It makes sense not to care that some rich guy shot his car into space. But, if SpaceX continues on its current path, it could change the way humans live. SpaceX’s next rocket, codenamed the BFR, could make the Space Shuttle look like a rickshaw compared to a semi-truck. With technology like this, regular people will be able to afford trips into space within the next century. SpaceX’s mission statement is to “make life multiplanetary,” and it seems like that is exactly the path the company is on.