SpaceX’s heavy-lift, Falcon Heavy, also now known as the world’s most powerful rocket, successfully soared to space carrying its payload, CEO Elon Musk’s red Tesla Roadster, into orbit. The launch marks the first time a vehicle this massive has ever been sent up by a commercial company.
Falcon Heavy boasts 27 engines, more than any other working rocket has ever used, which together create a combined 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff. That means the Falcon Heavy can put around 140,000 pounds of cargo into lower Earth orbit, more than twice as much weight as any other operational rocket.
The launch took place late last night, and Falcon Heavy’s flight still isn’t quite over yet.
The Falcon Heavy took off from a historic launchpad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, called LC-39A. It’s the same pad that was used to launch the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon, as well as numerous Space Shuttle flights. SpaceX is currently leasing the site from NASA, and will continue to launch Falcon Heavy flights from the pad for the foreseeable future.
Adding to that, two of the Falcon Heavy’s rocket cores also successfully touched down back on Earth after takeoff. Musk has been sharing frequent updates of Falcon Heavy’s mission development on Instagram.
The two outer boosters broke away mid-flight and returned to the Cape Canaveral, Florida, where the rocket was launched, touching down around 1,000 feet from one another on SpaceX’s concrete landing pads — Landing Zone 1 and Landing Zone 2.
The center core then broke away from the vehicle’s upper stage, but did not land as intended on one of SpaceX’s autonomous drone ships in the Atlantic Ocean.