Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Falcon Heavy nails it

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The SpaceX Falcon Heavy, the most powerful commercial rocket in the world, roared skyward Tuesday afternoon atop a pillar of smoke in a visually spectacular launch. But that was just the beginning. Two of the three boosters made vertical landings back at Kennedy Space Center, while the third booster scheduled to land on a drone ship hit the ocean about 100 yards from the ship. It was the most ambitious project so far for California-based SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk. The 23-story rocket was built with three of the company's proven Falcon 9 rockets, providing a total of 27 Merlin engines that generated a combined 5 million pounds of thrust. It lifted an unusual cargo into orbit. It was Musk’s Tesla Roadster with a dummy in the driver’s seat. The end goal is that the car would drift in space in an orbit around the sun. Falcon Heavy is more powerful and can lift more weight than the biggest rockets offered by either United Launch Alliance or Arianespace. It was a crucial win for commercial space exploration. A recent report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch forecast the size of the space industry octupling over the next three decades to at least $2.7 trillion. (Sources: including CNBC, BBC, Business Insider, 02/06/18) Gulf Coast note: SpaceX is using Stennis Space Center, Miss., to develop its next generation Raptor engines.