Aerospace company SpaceX on Tuesday launched the world’s most powerful space rocket from the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Tuesday. The rocket took off from the historic LC-39A launch site, which was used to launch the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.
“It seems surreal to me,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk said during a news conference after the launch. An estimated half-million spectators watched the rocket take to the skies from the beaches and other viewing points along Florida’s east coast.
The rocket payload includes Musk’s red Roadster, an electric sports car that his car company Tesla built, The New York Times reported. A mannequin – named Starman, in tribute to singer David Bowie – is strapped inside the car, wearing one of SpaceX’s spacesuits.
Musk is hoping that the Falcon Heavy rockets would help NASA in its interplanetary explorations in the future. The American space agency is working towards returning to the moon for the first time since 1972, and then landing humans on Mars before the middle of the century.
The launch cost the company about $90 million (Rs 577.21 crore), a fraction of the $435 million (Rs 2,789 crore) that United Launch Alliance – a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Boeing Defence, Space and Security – pays for launching its Delta IV Heavy rockets, The Guardian reported. Recycling rockets, Musk said, keeps down the cost for his company.
Musk said he hoped that this would encourage other companies and countries to achieve even more ambitious goals in space, and give birth to a new space race. “We want a new space race,” The New York Times quoted Musk as saying. “Races are exciting.”