Technology Elon Musk emphasizes the risks ahead of Falcon Heavy’s first mission

09:36  06 february  2018
09:36  06 february  2018 Source:   engadget.com

SpaceX launches satellite aboard Falcon 9 rocket

  SpaceX launches satellite aboard Falcon 9 rocket A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket using a previously flown first stage shot away from Cape Canaveral Wednesday afternoon -- 60 years to the day after the first successful U.S. satellite launch -- boosting a commercially developed military relay station into orbit for Luxembourg, its NATO allies and satellite operator SES.It was the California rocket builder's sixth flight featuring a "used" booster, a key element in founder Elon Musk's drive to lower costs. It was the 48th flight of a Falcon 9 overall and the second so far this year.

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Tomorrow, SpaceX will attempt to launch its massive Falcon Heavy rocket for the very first time. If successful, it will be the most powerful rocket in operation and opens up the possibility of future crewed missions to the Moon or Mars. Today, Elon Musk gave a few more details about the launch attempt during a press call ahead of tomorrow's main event.

Musk detailed the rocket's mission: After launch, it will coast for six hours, straight to geosynchronous Earth orbit, which is an orbit that follows the Earth's rotation so a satellite stays in the same place. This phase of the mission is specifically related to national security missions, to show that the rocket can deliver a payload directly to GEO.

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After this, the rocket will begin a trans-Mars injection engine burn. The upper stage of the Falcon Heavy will position itself in an elliptical orbit -- one part will be in Earth orbit, and the other will be in Mars. Musk described it as an "Earth-Mars cycler," but it's a little tricky to imagine just what this orbit will look like without some visuals. If everything goes well, the rocket will be about 400 million kilometers (about 250 million miles) away from our planet, and will remain in that orbit for up to a billion years. There's an "extremely tiny" chance it (along with the Tesla roadster that the Falcon Heavy will carry) could even impact the red planet.

But there is a lot of risk associated with tomorrow's mission, and Musk was frank about it. "It'll be a real huge downer if it blows up," he said on the call. If it explodes on the pad, the damage will take 9-12 month to clean up. However, an unsuccessful launch will not impact production.

New SpaceX jumbo rocket set for debut test launch in company milestone

  New SpaceX jumbo rocket set for debut test launch in company milestone A new SpaceX jumbo rocket in line to become the world's most powerful launch vehicle in operation was set for its highly anticipated debut test flight on Tuesday from Florida, carrying a Tesla Roadster as a mock payload.Liftoff of the 23-story-tall Falcon Heavy was slated for as early as 1:30 p.m. EST (1830 GMT) at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral in what would be a key turning point for Silicon Valley billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's privately owned Space Exploration Technologies.

Even if the rocket takes off, there's a lot of uncertainty in its risky mission. It will travel through the Van Allen Belts, charged areas of trapped radiation that surround the Earth, which could damage the rocket. There's also the concern of ice on the upper stage, as well the possibility the fuel could freeze or the oxygen could vaporize. There are many unknowns when it comes to tomorrow's scheduled launch; but one thing that Musk promises is that it'll be exciting: "It's either going to be an exciting success or an exciting failure -- one big boom."

SpaceX satellite broadband plans ready to blast off .
Elon Musk's rocket company has been working on getting satellite broadband off the ground for years. A Falcon 9 is set to launch the first test Saturday.More than three years ago we learned Elon Musk and his rocket company were working on developing satellites to provide low-cost internet access around the world. The first pair of demonstration satellites for the company's "Starlink" service will finally be launched into orbit aboard a Falcon 9 on Saturday, according to correspondence between the company and the Federal Communications Commission.

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