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Tech giant Elon Musk to send his own Tesla car to Mars aboard world’s most powerful rocket  

Elon Musk is planning to send his old cherry-red Tesla car to Mars, with a dummy strapped to it, while it plays David Bowie’s Life on Mars on repeat.

The vehicle will be strapped to the Falcon Heavy vehicle, which is designed to have twice the launching power of any existing rocket, and more than any since Saturn V, which launched the Apollo lunar missions.

The Falcon Heavy consists of three of the company’s Falcon 9 rockets joined together, each lending the super-rocket 27 Merlin engines.

This means that it should be able to generate almost 23,000 kilonewtons of thrust – just over double that of the world’s current most powerful rocket, the Delta IV Heavy, which is operated by US competitor United Launch Alliance.

The launch later on Tuesday at Kennedy Space Center has been in the pipeline since 2013.

The decision to send Mr Musk’s car into space was made because it will contain a dummy rather than a human astronaut, due to historic failings of maiden flights.

Humanity will be able to experience space from the view of the sports car, however, with the entrepreneur assuring spectators that cameras strapped to the vehicle will provide “epic views” as it travels to Mars.

The car will be thrown into an elliptical orbit that stretches out to Mars’ orbit around the Sun.

Elon Musk explained that the Roadster “will be in deep space for a billion years or so if it doesn’t blow up on ascent.”

Because it is the maiden voyage, it is very likely the craft will blow up.

The entrepreneur said on Monday: “It’ll be a really huge downer if it blows up,” Musk told reporters at a Monday afternoon briefing.

“If something goes wrong, hopefully it goes wrong far into the mission so we at least learn as much as possible along the way. I would consider it a win if it just clears the pad and doesn’t blow the pad to smithereens. That’s four million pounds of TNT equivalent so there’s probably not going to be much left if that thing lets loose on the pad.”

He said that the mannequin, if the launch is successful, will be in orbit for thousands of  years.

A representation of what the dummy will look like

Credit:
Elon Musk/Space X

Despite the likelihood of failure, Mr Musk appeared excited, saying: “The weather’s looking good, the rocket’s looking good. It’s going to be exciting one way or the other, it’s either going to be an exciting test or an exciting failure [with] one big boom.”

An estimated half-million people are expected to go to Florida’s Space Coast to witness the ascent, which may happen as early as 13:30 EST (18:30 GMT).

The rocket is designed to lift the equivalent weight of five double-decker London buses – 64 tons – into space.

If this maiden voyage is successful, it raises interesting possibilities for future innovation, including larger US satellites and also the realisation of Mr Musk’s dream to launch hundreds of satellites into space, in order to give broadband to the developing world.

It also means space exploration could be hugely enhanced, with larger robots sent to Mars, and some could even visit outer planets such as Jupiter, Saturn and their moons.

Nasa is also developing a super-rocket, but Musk’s, if successful, is much cheaper.

Their Space Launch System is said to cost $1bn (£715m) per flight, while the entrepreneur claims his Falcon Heavy will cost just $90m (£64m) per flight.

Casey Dreier, director of space policy at the Planetary Society, told The Guardian: “If Falcon Heavy is up and running, it opens up a lot of possibilities. That’s the key.

“Nasa is going to be saying: look, instead of waiting around for SLS, we can start putting pieces of our deep space gateway or orbiting lunar outpost in place. The question is will it be reliable enough for the government and others to put in their most valuable assets, to be worth the reduced cost?”

Article Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/06/tech-giant-elon-musk-send-car-mars-aboard-worlds-powerful-rocket/

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