Today, I was listening to the synth-pop sounds on the Space X webcast, waiting for the live feed to kick in for the Falcon Heavy test launch. You know, casual Tuesday things one does. These days, we watch rockets on our phones, pretty much every week. What’s special about this one? Why did I clear my schedule for today? Are we really sending a car to Mars?
Yes, we really are.
I beheld the Falcon Heavy ‘s flawless liftoff. The billowing steam, the flame, and the roar…I wasn’t there, and yet I was, in spirit, in thrall, in awe of the sheer power of the world’s most powerful rocket. The two side boosters fell away, and I watched them make their way back to earth and LAND simultaneously, next to each other. Just iconic. And yet, somehow, no big deal!
And I have to give props to Elon Musk, for the vision, the verve, and the team at SpaceX for making it happen.
Prior to the launch, Michael Hammersley (materials engineer at SpaceX) described the Falcon Heavy as “essentially three Falcon 9 rockets all strapped together.” It boasted twenty-seven engines, with five million pounds of thrust. As Hammersley enthused, that’s like eighteen 747 jets at takeoff.
Here we are, a successful launch, the payload of a Tesla Motors roadster and its mannequin pilot “Starman” speeding above earth, on a heliocentric orbit to send it on approach to Mars. While Starman and the roadster will probably never make it to Mars, due to the timing being off, the point is the effort was made as a launch test. And it’s incredible. These are things we’ve only dreamed of, until now. I write science fiction, and so I write about the absurd and nearly unimaginable, I push the envelope of what is possible. But I do so in hopes that I inspire others to make some of those things possible. This is what I witnessed today.
Mars, you’re not so alien after all, and I think we’ll walk on your ruddy shores soon.
Never stop dreaming, driving, seeking, striving.
Image Credit: Falcon Heavy Test Launch watercolor by J. Dianne Dotson Copyright 2018