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17.00 6 Feb 2018


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Updated: 21.10

Space agency SpaceX has successfully launched a rocket designed to send a car to Mars.

You can watch-back the takeoff below:

The Falcon Heavy blasted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida on Tuesday evening just before 9.00pm Irish time.

It is the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two, with the ability to lift more than twice the payload of the next vehicle, at one-third the cost.

SpaceX says only the Saturn V moon rocket, last flown in 1973, delivered more payload to orbit.

Image via @SpaceX on Twitter
Images: YouTube/SpaceX
 

The payload for Falcon Heavy's mission is a Tesla Roadster - a car which belongs to SpaceX CEO and lead designer, Elon Musk.

Inside the car is a mannequin named 'Starman', who is wearing a SpaceX spacesuit.

On the decision to put a car in the rocket, the company said: "Demonstration missions like this one typically carry steel or concrete blocks as mass simulators, but SpaceX decided it would be more worthwhile to launch something fun and without irreplaceable sentimental value: a red Roadster for the red planet."

Following the launch, the rocket's second stage will try to put the Roadster into a processing Earth-Mars elliptical orbit around the sun.

The planned route for the Falcon Heavy | Image:  YouTube/SpaceX

But SpaceX adds: "It's important to remember that this mission is a test flight.

"Even if we do not complete all of the experimental milestones that are being attempted during this test, we will still be gathering critical data throughout the mission.

"Ultimately, a successful demonstration mission will be measured by the quality of information we can gather to improve the launch vehicle for our existing and future customers."

In anticipation, SpaceX produced a video projecting what the journey will look like:


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