Elon Musk’s red Tesla roadster, carrying a crash-test dummy listening to David Bowie’s “Life on Mars?” on a loop, got launched into space Tuesday afternoon on SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, billed as the world’s most powerful commercial rocket. Musk’s historic launch riveted TV news outlets, upstaging the White House dark press briefing happening at the same time.
The launch happened just after Assistant Attorney General John Cronan had updated White House correspondents on the rapes, decapitations, and throat slittings committed by the estimated 10,000 MS-13 gang members in the United States.
“Woo hoo — sonic boom!” CNN’s tech correspondent Rachel Cox shouted from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, as White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders took a question about President Donald Trump’s boast earlier Tuesday that he’d welcome a government shutdown if Dems don’t give him what he wants on immigration – a crack down on illegal entry by people like MS-13 members.
Cox earlier had reported the rocket was about to make the ground “seriously rumble,” and that “this thing is big,” noting SpaceX claims it’s the most powerful rocket in the world, with 27 engines and a potential for 5 million pounds of thrust.
CNBC, meanwhile, reported Falcon Heavy is more powerful and can lift more weight than the biggest rockets offered by United Launch Alliance (a Boeing and Lockheed Martin joint venture) or Arianespace – at a fraction of the cost. The news network reported that SpaceX built Falcon Heavy out of three Falcon 9 rockets — a system that completed dozens of successful launches in the last few years.
CNN’s former space-travel wonk and current contributor Miles O’Brien filled in some blanks: The vehicle will orbit the sun, will be about 250K miles away at its furthest distance from Earth, and will not enter into Mars’ orbit. The cost of Musk’s vehicle is about 30% of that being developed by NASA.
“That changes everything when you talk about space exploration,” O’Brien told CNN by phone. If you’re wondering who is the future of space exploration, “Smart money is on the guy who puts Teslas into space,” Miles quipped. Musk has previously boasted Falcon Heavy’s payload at nearly three times that of former space shuttles.
“I have missed greatly the launches of the shuttles,” Miles reminisced. “Looking at that crowd, one of the things that struck me most is how the United States got to the moon on the backs and brains of 20-somethings. Look at that SpaceX team. It’s a new generation of explorers putting this amazing rocket into space….This is a big moment.”