SpaceX will send the world’s first car into orbit around Mars as the Falcon Heavy rocket takes off in Florida.
The Falcon 9-based spacecraft maiden launch will make history this evening becoming the most powerful rocket to leave Earth since NASA’s Atlas 5.
The rocket was due to take off in January but was pushed back several days to today from the Kennedy Space Centre.
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SpaceX wrote on Instagram: “The first test flight of Falcon Heavy is targeted for Tuesday, February 6th at 1:30 PM ET from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“When Falcon Heavy lifts off, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two.
“For this test flight, Falcon Heavy’s side cores are flight-proven—both previously supported independent Falcon 9 missions in 2016.”
Following a successful static engine test on January 27, SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted: “Aiming for first flight of Falcon Heavy on February 6 from Apollo launchpad 39A at Cape Kennedy.
“Easy viewing from the public causeway.”
The Falcon Heavy will carry a “cherry Tesla Roadster” to orbit Mars, playing David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ on repeat. The firm said it would “be in deep space for a billion years or so if it doesn’t blow up on ascent”.
Mr Musk revealed his plan in December when he posted a series of images on Instagram of the red Tesla inside the Falcon Heavy.
He also wrote: “Test flights of new rockets usually contain mass simulators in the form of concrete or steel blocks.
“That seemed extremely boring. Of course, anything boring is terrible, especially companies, so we decided to send something unusual, something that made us feel.
“The payload will be an original Tesla Roadster, playing Space Oddity, on a billion-year elliptic Mars orbit.”
Despite carrying the car into space, the aim of the missile is to test the Falcon Heavy’s space-faring capabilities for future manned missions to Mars.