Saturday

There Now IS A Starman Waiting In The Sky

The recent launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy was quite a show; plenty of thrilling space opera that brought to mind the old Apollo days, but with a bit more sass and flash. 

So what did it actually show us, other than launching a Telsa Roadster into space and giving us a jolly good spectacle (and the instant meme of "Starman" - see below)? 


Well, the launch was largely successful apart from the fact that the center booster did not land properly - it crashed into the sea when it missed it's floating landing pad. The two external boosters did land successfully (and almost perfectly in sync) on their land-based spots.

The main point of the SpaceX system is that much of the hardware is reusable, the platform flies into space and comes back to fly again - unlike the "old days" when the rockets were more like their diminutive July 4th namesakes (fly into the air, then crash back somewhere else).

This makes the system much less expensive to get stuff into orbit. The Falcon Heavy can launch around 64 Metric Tonnes into orbit for around $90 million, whereas the next best current system is the Delta IV Heavy from ULA which can carry around 32 Metric Tonnes for $300-500 million.

SpaceX already has orders lined up to go into orbit later this year using the Falcon Heavy, including a "light sail" project.

The Falcon Heavy is not the platform to get people into space, though; that is reserved for the "BFR" (Big Feckin' Rocket), development of which is supposedly going well.

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