Closer to Mars

In case you missed it, yesterday SpaceX (the company owned by the Tesla car guy, Elon Musk) tested their biggest rocket yet: the Falcon Heavy. They live streamed the event, so you could watch it at home, and they stressed ahead of time that all sorts of things could go wrong. The rocket could blow up. It could malfunction. It could do nothing. Or it could work as planned.

If all went according to plan, three booster rockets would fire in tandem, launching a payload into an orbit that stretches beyond Mars. Then, after the rockets were done, they would turn around and fly back to where they launched, landing themselves upright, perfectly balanced.

It sounded way too cool to be possible. I’ve always loved the history of space exploration, and this sounded like something not to be missed. It ended up being spectacular. Here’s the whole launch:

And check out this picture perfect landing of two of the rockets. I was dumbfounded:

That’s just incredible. Yes, the third rocket didn’t manage the same feat. (It ran out of fuel for some reason.) But it’s still remarkable what they managed to achieve. The payload was delivered: Elon Musk’s personal Tesla is now rocketing to Mars, blasting David Bowie’s Space Oddity as it flies. You can see a live video of it here:

Musk has been talking for years of his plans to put a colony on Mars. It’s seemed like an outlandish goal to me, especially when he starts talking about his timeframe. Five years? A decade? But when I watched that launch and saw just what he’s capable of doing so far, it sees much more tangible. He’s got plans to send an enormous rocket carrying 100 passengers over to the red planet, where they’ll establish a foothold on Mars, and then grow from there.

He’s been talking about doing something on the moon as well, because why not.

I looked at pictures of his planned colony, and I actually thought about what it would be like to live there. Not in a fantasy/sci-fi vein, but in a real, “I wonder if they’d need a librarian” sort of mentality. (In case you’re worried, I decided I’d much rather live on Earth. I like my creature comforts too much.


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