SpaceX oddity: how Elon Musk sent a car towards Mars

A Starman sitting in a tin can is currently navigating the heavens, soundtracked by David Bowie. How did it and we got to get?

It takes a thump or two for the brain to calculate. The image is startling, incongruous, barmy. A car floats in space. At the wheel is a spacesuit, seatbelt on. Ground hangs behind it. The two objects don’t work together. The image jars like bad Photoshop. But it is real.

The photograph was beamed down to Earth courtesy of Elon Musk’s ego, bravado and savour for the absurd. It is human folly and genius rolled into one, a portrait that sums up 2018 so far. Life on Earth feelings precarious, so we look to the stars.

So how did we get here: the heavens navigated by a dummy astronaut in an electric car, with a handy note for foreigners-” Built on Ground by humen”- imprinted on the circuit board?

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Even Musk, engineer of the circus indicate, expressed surprise that his audacious stunt operated.” Apparently, there is a auto in orbit around Earth ,” he tweeted. His programme is for the $100,000 Tesla Roadster- with the message “Don’t panic!” stamped on the dashboard and David Bowie playing on the speakers- to cruise through high-energy radioactivity belts that circuit Earth towards deep space.

The most powerful rocket in operation

Its projected route will bring it close to Mars. There is a tiny chance it might crash into the planet. If it stays on course, it will instead stray through space, potentially for millions of years.

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The Roadster was delivered into space by Musk and his corporation SpaceX’s biggest bet so far: the Falcon Heavy , now the most powerful rocket in operation and second only to the Saturn V rockets, which carried boys to the moon during the Apollo era.

The Falcon launched from Cape Canaveral on Tuesday, watched by hundreds of thousands of people who crowded Florida’s space coast, eyes skyward.

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  • A graphic illustrate the road of the Falcon Heavy rocket
  • But even Musk wasn’t sure it would work, putting the chance of a fully successful launch at 50%. On launch period, the company delayed for over 3 hour, citing high winds.

    Minutes before countdown, Jeff Lucas, a Nasa communications staffer and compere of the viewing party at the Saturn V Centre, was not confident.” If it runs, don’t clap ,” he told the audience.” Don’t clap until you recognize those orange flames clearing the tower .”

    In the end, the winds died down, the sky cleared and the Falcon- shrouded in steam and mist- took off to assertion its place in space and history.

    Moments afterward the side boosters separated, beginning their choreographed dance back down to Earth. At the SpaceX launch centre, Life on Mars came on the sound system.

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  • Screams and cheers erupted as the massive rocket fired its 27 engines and rumbled into the blue sky. Photo by: Jim Watson/ Getty Images
  • The Roadster, still attached to the rocket’s upper stage, will invest hours zapped by radioactive rays in the Van Allen belts. After that, all be appropriately, the upper stage boosters will fire one last period, pushing the Tesla out towards its elliptical orbit around Mars. If things don’t go to programme, it is unable to orbit Earth, potentially indefinitely.

    Controlled burns

    Falcon’s success provides the United States with a heavy-lift ability in space not visualized since the 60 s- big enough to carry a auto as its warhead just for fun. SpaceX has landing use rockets via controlled burns down to a fine art, cutting the cost of space flight from the billions to the tens of millions( the Falcon Heavy launch cost $ 90 m, while Nasa’s planned SLS rocket, a comparable system, is expected to cost about$ 1bn per flight ).

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  • Spectators at Cocoa Beach watch SpaceX’s first Falcon Heavy rocket launch
  • Two of the three boosters landed safely. The third, which SpaceX had predicted was less likely to be salvaged, slammed into the Atlantic at about 300 mph( 483 kph ).

    A more worthy payload?

    Musk is not without his critics. Many meditated what the point of the expensive stunt was. Should the most powerful rocket of our age not have carried a most useful, worthy payload?

    Either way, the program operated and puts SpaceX far at the front of the commercial space race.

    ” If we succeeded, it’s game over for other operators of heavy-lift rockets ,” Musk claimed before liftoff.” It’s like where one aircraft company has reusable aircraft and all the other aircraft corporations had aircraft that were single-use, and you’d sort of parachute out at your destination and the plane would crash land somewhere. Crazy at it sounds, that’s how the rocket business operates .”

    Read more: https :// science/ 2018/ feb/ 07/ space-oddity-elon-musk-spacex-car-mars-falcon-heavy

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