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Falcon Heavy's "Amazing Achievement"

February 6, 2018

We have liftoff!

SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon Heavy rocket on Tuesday afternoon, ending years of anticipation and a couple hours of last-minute delays.

John Timmer, science editor at Ars Technica, explains why this historic launch is such “an amazing achievement.”

“Traditionally, these huge launch vehicles have been the domain of governments,” Timmer told Cheddar, referring to the U.S. and Russian space programs.

This marks the first time a private company has ever developed a rocket like this.

The launch puts the Elon Musk-led company ahead of Blue Origin, run by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Timmer says that company plans its own high-power rocket launch but is still a few years away.

And Roscosmos, the Russian space program, also tried to launch a rocket with many small engines but “failed spectacularly,” a stark contrast to the Falcon Heavy, which was propelled by 27 engines.

“SpaceX, between current computer control systems and their careful manufacturing, has apparently solved the problem necessary to send something into orbit with that many engines,” Timmer said.

The Falcon Heavy launched from Kennedy Space Center at 3:45 pm ET on Tuesday. Musk added some showmanship to the event, by including his own Tesla roadster as the payload. By the end of the day the roadster was on a trajectory that is planned to put it in a long elliptical orbit around Mars.

For full interview, click here.