On Tuesday, Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully launched its most ambitious rocket to date, the Falcon Heavy.
This is a transformative spacecraft, a behemoth that essentially straps three Falcon 9 rocket cores together. At 224-feet tall, it’s smaller than NASA’s giant Saturn V (363 feet) — but it is the largest privately built spacecraft to date. The Falcon Heavy is capable of lifting 70 tons of payload to low-Earth orbit and almost 30 tons to a geostationary transfer orbit.
It is a test flight on Musk’s more ambitious road to start colonizing Mars in the next half-century by establishing a city with 1 million people on the Red Planet.
The successful launch hailed a new era for space exploration. http://cutepetscorner.com/2018/02/01/ferrets-a-guide-to-the-basics/
The privatization of the space race is increasingly accelerating its pace.
But experts nonetheless predicted smooth sailing for the cherry red convertible and the spacesuit-wearing mannequin, Starman, positioned behind the wheel. Even in the asteroid belt, it seems the car is unlikely to encounter anything beyond ultraviolet radiation, cosmic rays and other highly charged particles, and the occasional micrometeroid. http://cutepetscorner.com/2018/02/01/pet-food-recipes-hygiene-food-safety/
Exposure to all of this “would be unhealthy for humans but will only very slowly degrade the Roadster and its rider,” Dr. Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, told NBC News MACH in an email. “Indeed, this car is surely destined to rack up billions of miles before disaster hits — if it does.”
Shostak said disaster could come in the form of a collision with Earth or Mars or possibly an asteroid. But he estimated that the spacefaring Roadster “has less chance of a collision each year than all the Roadsters plying the highways of Earth put together.”
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, runs the spaceflight company Blue Origin, which is developing its own heavy lifter, New Glenn. NASA, of course, is not yet giving up; it is working on a huge rocket called Space Launch System. It’s a sustainable and affordable system dedicated to deep space exploration, including crewed flights to Mars. Both rockets are supposed to be operational in the 2020s.
There is a clear tidal shift going on. If the legacy of the current generation of space exploration has been to map and visit most of the worlds of our solar system with robotic missions, the next is looking at sending people out there, especially to Mars. As with our ancestors who pushed out of the African savanna to explore the world, where we will go seems to be limited only by our imagination. And money, of course. Every mission needs sponsors.
Musk’s triumph Tuesday in a SpaceX test flight that sent a sports car deep into space may have been something of a cross-promotional stunt involving Tesla, one of his other companies. But it also marked a turning point for a budding commercial space industry that has raised the stakes for itself by promising big things. Now the question is whether it can maintain its momentum and live up to the promise of returning humans to space while landing spacecraft on the surface of the moon — inherently difficult and dangerous endeavors, even for NASA.