CAPE CANAVERAL, USA (4th UPDATE) – The world’s most powerful rocket, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, blasted off on Tuesday, February 6 (February 7, Manila time) on its highly anticipated maiden test flight, carrying CEO Elon Musk’s cherry red Tesla roadster to an orbit near Mars.
Screams and cheers erupted at Cape Canaveral, Florida as the massive rocket fired its 27 engines and rumbled into the blue sky over the same NASA launchpad that served as a base for the US missions to Moon 4 decades ago.
“Wow, did you guys see that? That was awesome,” said SpaceX commentator Lauren Lyons as applause thundered through mission control.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/2ypESsi1sF— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 6, 2018
About two minutes into the flight, the two side boosters peeled away and made their way back toward Earth for an upright landing.
Falcon Heavy’s side cores, meanwhile, have landed at SpaceX’s landing zones.
Falcon Heavy side cores have landed at SpaceX’s Landing Zones 1 and 2. pic.twitter.com/oMBqizqnpI— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 6, 2018
“And the Falcons have landed,” Lyons said.
The third, center booster was to attempt a landing on an ocean platform.
Window of opportunity
High winds earlier narrowed the window of opportunity for SpaceX to launch its monster rocket, the Falcon Heavy.
What started as a clear day in central Florida with 90% favorable weather gave way to high upper level winds, pushing back the liftoff to 3:45 pm (2045 GMT), just 15 minutes before the the launch window of opportunity’s end for the day.
“Launch auto-sequence initiated (aka the holy mouse-click) for 3:45 liftoff,” CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter.
If Tuesday’s attempt is scrubbed for any reason, another window opens on Wednesday.
Loaded with CEO Elon Musk’s red Tesla roadster, a mannequin in a spacesuit, and a playlist consisting of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” the monster rocket’s maiden voyage has captured the world’s imagination.
Musk himself puts the odds of success or failure at no better than 50-50.
“It is guaranteed to be exciting, one way or another,” the quirky 46-year-old South African-born space visionary and wealthy businessman told reporters ahead of the launch.
“I would consider it a win if it just clears the pad and doesn’t blow the pad to smithereens,” he added.
“I mean, that’s 4 million pounds of TNT equivalent.”
The launch window was initially set to begin at 1:30 pm EST (1830 GMT; 2:30 am of Wednesday Manila time), but the earliest liftoff opportunity was postponed to 2:20 pm due to winds. The launch window closes at 4:00 pm EST (5:00 am of Wednesday, Manila time). – Rappler.com
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