In a historic first, SpaceX launched the world’s mostpowerful operational rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday. Bynailing the giant rocket’s first flight, and landing its two side boosters onthe ground, the Hawthorne company set the stage for faster and cheaper launches of satellites — particularly lucrative national security satellites and other cargo.
The test payload for the demonstration mission was SpaceXfounder and Chief Executive Elon Musk’s midnight cherry Tesla Roadster. The carwas shown by remote camera separating from the rocket and astronauts riding in the company’s Dragon 2 capsule wear heading out toward Mars, a dummy ‘Starman’ behind the wheel, wearing a Space-X –designed spacesuit that will eventually. A sign saying ’Don’t Panic!’ in all capital letters was seen on the dashboard console.
’I had this image of just a giant explosion on the pad with a wheel bouncing down the road,’ Musk said during a post-launch news conference Tuesday afternoon. ’Fortunately, that’s not what happened.’
After liftoff, SpaceX attempted to land all three of Falcon Heavy’s boosters back on Earth — two on land and one on a floating platform atsea. Musk had described the attempt as ’synchronized aerial ballet.’ About eight minutes after liftoff, the two side boosters set down simultaneously on land.
The rocket’s center core, which was set to touch down on a floating sea platform, did not fare as well. During the news conference, Musk said the booster hit the water at a speed of about 300 mph and was about 328 feet away from the floating platform, taking out two of the drone ship’s thruster sand showering the deck with shrapnel.
Musk said two of three engines on the core did not ignite during the landing attempt. But he said the company was not planning to reuse the core or the two side boosters from this particular mission.
The launch occurred at 12:45 p.m. PST from Launch Complex39A, the same launch pad where the Saturn V rocket last lifted off to take astronauts to the moon 45 years ago. The launch was originally set for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, but it was delayed several times Tuesday to wait out high upper-atmosphere winds.
About 4 minutes after launch, the rocket’s fairing — the clamshell-like covering that protects payloads at the top of the rocket —deployed successfully.
发射后约4分钟，火箭的整流罩 - 保护火箭顶部的有效载荷的翻盖式覆盖物 - 成功部署。
On a conference call with reporters Monday afternoon, Musk said the Tesla would do a ’grand tour’ through the Van Allen belts, an area of high radiation that surrounds the Earth, as part of a six-hour cost in deep space that is intended to demonstrate to the U.S. Air Force that Falcon Heavy can meet specific orbit-insertion requirements.
If the car survives that environment, then it will continue on to an elliptical orbit around the sun that at times will come close to Mars, with an "extremely tiny" chance it will hit the Red Planet, though Musk said, "I wouldn’t hold your breath."
The journey of Starman and the Tesla is being live-streamed by SpaceX on YouTube. About 2:50 p.m. Pacific time, the car and its driver were seen drifting through space with Earth looming behind.
SpaceX公司将Starman和特斯拉的旅程在YouTube做了直播。 下午2:50左右（太平洋时间） ，可以看到汽车和司机在地球后面的空间里漂移。
Musk said Tuesday that he thought the payload was "silly and fun."
I think the imagery of it is something that’s going to get people excited around the world, he said. "It’s still tripping me out."
Falcon Heavy is the most powerful U.S. rocket since the Saturn V. First announced to the public in 2011, Falcon Heavy was expected to generate 5.1 million pounds of thrust at liftoff and be capable of carrying more than 140,000 pounds to low-Earth orbit.
The launch of Falcon Heavy sets SpaceX up as an even more powerful competitor in the private space industry, particularly in terms of heavy-lift capacity. Although other companies, such as Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Orbital ATK, are also developing giant rockets to hoist heavy payloads to space, Tuesday’s successful launch gives SpaceX several years of lead time, said Marco Caceres, senior space analyst at Teal Group.
It’s just changing the whole game, he said. "The fact that you have a brand-new rocket that is the most powerful rocket and it’s a success on the first try, that’s big news."
With its large payload capacity, the Falcon Heavy is expected to help SpaceX win contracts that require more capability than its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket.
When you’re talking about highly classified payloads or special missions, you really want to be sure you’ve got capacity, Ellen Tauscher, former U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, who serves on SpaceX’s board of advisors, said Tuesday.
Analysts have said that the commercial launch market for large satellites is tight and that SpaceX would need to secure new opportunities, such as NASA planetary missions, to maximize its investment in Falcon Heavy — which, on Tuesday, Musk pegged at more than half a billion dollars. But its huge payload capacity and price tag — launches start at $90 million — could change things, said Bill Ostrove, aerospace and defense analyst at Forecast International.
分析人士表示，大型卫星的商业发射市场是紧张的，SpaceX公司需要获得新的机会，如美国航空航天局行星任务，以最大限度地投资猎鹰重型——与周二马斯克挂钩的五十多亿美元。 但是国际预测公司（Forecast International）的航空航天和防务分析师Bill Ostrove表示，它巨大的有效载荷能力和高达9,000万美元的市值——可能会改变事态。
With a price point at that level, we don’t know what’s going to develop going forward, he said.
Falcon Heavy won’t even be the largest rocket SpaceX intends to build. On Tuesday, Musk said the rocket’s successful test flight gave him confidence in the company’s upcoming BFR spaceship and rocket system, which he has said will carry people to colonize Mars.
Musk first promised that a demonstration flight of the massive rocket would occur in 2012. But SpaceX, whose full name is Space Exploration Technologies Corp., found that development of the 27-engine behemoth was more difficult than initially expected.
马斯克最初承诺重型火箭将于2012年进行示范飞行。但SpaceX（Space Exploration Technologies Corp）发现要建造这个拥有27个发动机的巨大火箭比最初的设想更加困难。
After a successful static fire almost two weeks ago, anticipation had been building for Falcon Heavy’s first flight. By noon Pacific time Monday, Kennedy Space Center’s visitor center tweeted that no more tickets were available to watch the launch from designated viewing spots.
Musk tried to temper expectations, going as far as to say that there was a "good chance" the rocket would not make it to orbit on the first flight and that he hoped the spacecraft made it "far enough away from the pad that it does not cause pad damage."
I would even consider that a win, to be honest, he told an audience at a space conference in Washington this summer.
Tauscher, who as a representative for California’s 10th Congressional District served on the House Armed Services Committee, said Tuesday that the launch would be an opportunity to learn.
You have to be innovative, she said. "You have to be willing to do tests that give you the answers you’re looking for."
On Monday, Musk told reporters he didn’t feel that stressed about the launch.I feel quite giddy and happy, actually, Musk said. "We’ve done everything we could to maximize the chance of success for this mission."