While it’s fair to say that Elon Musk’s car floating through space is now getting much of the attention there was actually another key moment during the Falcon Heavy launch that took people’s breath away.
Having not exploded on the launchpad or during its ascent the huge rocket finally broke up into three separate parts and for the first time in history, SpaceX then attempted to land all three rockets back on Earth at the same time.
The two side boosters were the first to re-enter the atmosphere. Here’s the incredible moment that they came in to land:
The successful landing of two Falcon 9 rockets at the same time isn’t just significant in its technical achievement it’s a huge step forward in how we send people and equipment into space.
By reusing the rockets we send into space rather than just dumping them in orbit or crashing them into the sea, SpaceX is able to drastically reduce the cost of a launch.
As such Falcon Heavy costs just a quarter of the nearest competitor and is able to lift twice the amount of weight.
With NASA’s own heavy rocket still in the very early testing phase, having a reliable heavy launch system will be crucial if we want to return to the Moon, build new space stations or even maintain the International Space Station.
What is Falcon Heavy?
Falcon Heavy is the largest rocket designed by Elon Musk’s private space company SpaceX. It will one of the most powerful rockets ever built and is the next step in SpaceX’s journey towards building a rocket large enough to take humans to Mars.
It is comprised of three smaller Falcon 9 rockets effectively strapped together.
While it can’t compete with NASA’s iconic Saturn V Moon rocket which generated 7.5 million pounds of thrust, Falcon Heavy will take the current top spot as being the rocket able to lift the most amount of cargo into space.
Once fully operational it will have the thrust of 18 Boeing 747 passenger jets and be able to lift the equivalent of a Boeing 737 airliner filled with fuel, luggage and passengers into space.