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SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket has blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., much to the delight of Elon Musk, who said the launch went as well as he could have hoped and showed him that “crazy things come true.”
The 23-storey tall Falcon Heavy roared off its launch pad at 3:45 p.m. ET at the Kennedy Space Center, from the same site used by NASA’s towering Saturn V rockets to carry Apollo missions to the moon more than 40 years ago.
“I didn’t really think this would work,” Musk told reporters, saying he knew all the different ways things could go wrong. Before the launch, he said he was imagining failure — including a launchpad explosion, complete with the logo tumbling to earth with a thud.
Musk said he’s seen rockets blow up in so many different ways and that it’s always a “big relief” when things actually work as planned.
Though the maiden launch is unmanned, there is a special payload: a Tesla roadster with a dummy called Starman destined to orbit the sun between Mars and Earth.
View from SpaceX Launch Control. Apparently, there is a car in orbit around Earth. pic.twitter.com/QljN2VnL1O
For now, people can see the view, but that will end when the batteries die.
“I think it looks so ridiculous and impossible,” he said of the view. “You can tell it’s real because it looks so fake,” he said, noting that colours look different in images from space.
When asked what he learned, Musk said he learned that “crazy things come true.”
Musk has long said his goal is to make access to space affordable and his reusable rockets are what’s cutting the costs. The Falcon Heavy has a price tag of $ 90 million per launch compared to roughly $ 500 million for the second most powerful rocket, the United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy.
“This is a big first for just getting things into low-Earth orbit, but it’s also a big deal for commercial space because a company is about to put potentially 140,000 pounds into low-Earth orbit, years ahead of NASA’s expensive Space Launch System,” said space historian Randy Attwood, referring to NASA’s next-generation rocket, which is scheduled to launch in 2020.
“It represents big changes in space in the future in that it’s going to get cheaper to space which means we’ll be doing more of space, which I think is good for humanity,” Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen told CBC News.
“This rocket represents progress for SpaceX, and they’re already making a great contribution to space exploration and utilization of space,” he said.