Robert was their only child to survive; a younger son, Richard Henry, was born with a spinal deformity and died before his first birthday.
Email Last Updated Feb 6, Spectacular as it was, the launching was just the appetizer for a long-awaited test flight. Eight minutes after the rocket took off, two of the three Falcon 9 core stages that helped power the vehicle out of the lower atmosphere made rocket-powered descents to side-by-side touchdowns at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, generating thunderous sonic booms as they slowed for landing.
Instead, it crashed into the Atlantic at about mph, missing the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship by about the length of a football field, damaging two of the unpiloted ship's thrusters and showering the deck with debris. None of the stages used for Tuesday's flight were to be used again as SpaceX transitions to an upgraded version of the Falcon rocket and recovering the boosters was a secondary test objective.
The major goal was demonstrating a new heavy-lift rocket and Musk was thrilled with the mission. I'm still trying to absorb everything that happened because it seems surreal to me. The mission has begun really as well as one could have hoped with the exception of the center core.
The Falcon Heavy boosted Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster into an orbit around the sun with a high point in the astroid belt near the dwarf planet Ceres and a low point near the orbit of Earth.
After a final rocket firing by the Heavy's upper stage, the Tesla had a velocity of nearly 27, mph.
The initial version will be able to boost more than 50, pounds to Earth-escape velocity. But the SLS is not expected to fly until late or later. Until then, the Falcon Heavy will be the world's most powerful rocket, offering a relatively low-cost option for getting heavy payloads into space for NASA, the Department of Defense and commercial satellite operators.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who attended the launch at the Kennedy Space Center, said the Heavy offers a promising alternative for heavy weight national security satellites that are too big for the Falcon 9 and currently fly exclusively on more expensive United Launch Alliance Delta 4s.
The business end of the Falcon Heavy: SpaceX "The national security people have indicated that assuming this test or a subsequent one goes well they would plan to use this Falcon Heavy for classified missions," he said.
The rocket also could be used to launch astronauts or space tourists to the moon, although plans for such flights are not yet mature. Made up of three strapped-together Falcon 9 first stages and a single upper stage, carrying the Tesla, the Falcon Heavy's engines flashed to life at 3: After a lightning-fast round of computer checks, the foot-tall rocket was released to climb away from from the pad, shattering the afternoon calm with an ear-splitting roar and an impossible-to-miss rush of fire from all 27 engines, nine at the base of each core stage.
Going into the flight, Musk predicted a 50 percent to 70 percent chance of success based in large part on the difficulty predicting how the vehicle would respond to extreme aerodynamic stresses and vibrations from the clustered engines.Construction of the first stage of rocket capable of lifting 80 tonnes is already underway, according to Roscosmos chief, Oleg Ostapenko (pictured).
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