“It seems surreal to me,” said Elon Musk, proprietor of SpaceX, and for once he was understating things.
On Tuesday, his company blasted a 230-foot rocket into orbit, returned its two side boosters to Earth for a flawlessly synchronized landing, and — with exquisite nerd flair — propelled Musk’s own Tesla Roadster toward deep space, where it’s expected to orbit the sun for hundreds of millions of years.
Surreal, yes. But it was also a triumph of private enterprise and a milestone in American spacefaring. Its true significance, in fact, may not be apparent for decades. Known as the Falcon Heavy, the new projectile has 27 engines generating 5 million pounds of thrust, making it the most powerful rocket ever built by a private company. Continue Reading →