Elon Musk, the cheeky little Tony Stark-esque scamp, is at it again, and this time it’s back to rockets. Elon Musk was last in the news as the man who joked about making flamethrowers to fight the uprising zombie army on Twitter, and then went and sold 20,000 of the things at $500 a pop, selling out inside three days. Now that he’s done making more money off an off-hand tweet than you ever would to your 85 followers, he’s turning his attention back to some serious business.
Today, he launches his Falcon Heavy rocket, which will become the world’s most powerful launcher, over twice as powerful as the leading competitor’s. It will have the ability to put just a shade over 64 tonnes of payload into orbit, and is being powered by three of his own Falcon 9 rockets.
What’s the payload, I hear you ask? Good question. In true Elon Musk form, he’s put his own Tesla, complete with a Stig-like dummy in the driving seat, in the payload space, and is expecting to launch it into Mar’s orbit. It will, unsurprisingly, be playing Space Oddity on loop as it flung into the eternal darkness of space.
Musk, however, is not entirely confident about the launch. Given that maiden rocket launches often end in failure, he is wary about the outcome. He says that it will be ‘either a great rocket launch or the best fireworks display they’ve ever seen’. Though he may be underplaying Great Yarmouth’s New Year’s firework celebration of 2014, every hotel around the Kennedy Space Centre has been sold out, as viewers from across the world flock to watch the event.
Students thinking of going for Physics or Engineering should be looking at the physics behind rocket launches, about how the stages of acceleration work, and the physics behind elliptical orbits. Kepler’s Second and Third Laws are particularly useful to have a look at.