Overwhelming success That is the general impression after the inaugural flight of the new Falcon Heavy rocket from the US company SpaceX. After many years of delay, which gives a good idea of the real complexity of the original idea, the Elon Musk company tested for the first time what is already the most powerful vector in service worldwide.

With a capacity of 63 tons in low orbit, which doubles its closest rival, the Delta-IV Heavy, the new rocket is 70 meters high and is formed by an improved Falcon-9 powered by two lateral accelerators, totaling 27 engines. The total thrust to takeoff is closer than any other to that of the gigantic lunar Saturn-V.

Like any first mission, always risky, it is avoided to place a valuable load at the top of the vehicle. The most usual is to place an inert mass, but this time, it was decided to use something much more attractive: the Tesla Roadster car of Elon Musk, the founder of the company.

The launch occurred at 20:45 UTC, from the ramp 39A Kennedy Space Center. The rocket went through all the stages of ascent without problems, including the separation of the lateral accelerators (reused from previous missions), which landed simultaneously at a short distance from the launch site, offering spectacular images. As for the central stage, which had to be recovered on the high seas, it nevertheless fell into the water. The maneuver did not develop according to plan, for a few meters, taking into account that it fell faster than usual.

Once the fairing was separated, images of the payload began to arrive, the Roadster, with a mannequin at the controls wearing a space suit. The car was placed in a low orbit that minutes later was modified to demonstrate the use of the second stage of the rocket to directly inject a satellite into geostationary orbit. The third and last ignition served to accelerate and place the car in a heliocentric route around the Sun. It will cross the orbit of Mars (it will not get close to it) and will penetrate the asteroid belt, in a trajectory where it will remain indefinitely.

The Roadster also transported a copy of several books by Isaac Asimov, as well as a disc with the names of the more than 6,000 SpaceX employees who have participated in the program. The car weighed about 1,300 kg at takeoff. Your rocket could, in any case, send almost 17 tons to Mars. I could also send 3.5 tons to Pluto. All with a mission cost of about 90 million dollars.

If all goes well, two more Falcon Heavy will be launched this year, one for a military test mission (STP-2) and another to send a communications satellite called Arabasat-6A into space.

Fuente: Noticias de la Ciencia