In pictures: Elon Musk's historical Falcon Heavy rocket launch

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 07 February, 2018, 10:44

It's being hailed as a "changing moment" by space travel experts.

But, US tech entrepreneur Elon Musk has donwplayed the successful launch of his new rocket, the Falcon Heavy - along with a cherry red Tesla car - from the Kennedy Space Center in the United States last night.

The South African inventor described the launch as "silly, but fun".

Though the real-life Tony Stark is downplaying the rocket launch, the images that have steadily filtered through social media have been nothing short of inspiring.

Pre-launch

Anticipation was high ahead of the launch at Kennedy Space Center, though Musk suggested that chances of a successful launch were 50/50.

Falcon Heavy prepares for launch (Photo: SpaceX

Speaking to reporters at the launch the South African inventor joked "I had this image of just a giant explosion on the pad, a wheel bouncing down the road."

All systems remain go for today’s test flight of Falcon Heavy. Weather is 90% favorable for today’s two-and-a-half hour launch window, which opens at 1:30 p.m. EST, or 18:30 UTC. pic.twitter.com/oYrZZQzzbo

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 6, 2018

Liftoff

Fortunately for all involved with the SpaceX programme Musk's premonition didn't come true.

Falcon Heavy successfully launched at 15.45pm local time.

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 6, 2018

A timelapse of the rocket's launch (Photo: SpaceX)

Falcon Heavy took off without incident (Photo: SpaceX)

Side boosters land

As Falcon Heavy hurtled towards space the craft's side boosters returned to earth and performed an immaculate landing.

The footage was compared to clips from futurisitc sci-fi films by many.

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This shot of Falcon Heavy's side boosters landing in unison looks like stolen footage from the future pic.twitter.com/pboOm3z9HQ

— Charles Case (@charlescase98) February 7, 2018

Despite the pair of boosters being in good enough condition to reuse, Musk suggestsed there was no plan to do so.

Sending a car to space

Attached to SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket was one of Elon Musk's own Tesla sports cars.

David Bowie's Space Oddity is playing on loop in the car's stereo, while a sign reading "DON'T PANIC" is visible in images of the car's interior.

View from SpaceX Launch Control. Apparently, there is a car in orbit around Earth. pic.twitter.com/QljN2VnL1O

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 6, 2018

In the driver's seat of the electric car is a mannequin nicknamed Starman - another nod to late singer Bowie.

I do science. I explain to my kids & their friends what I do, and they think it's cool. But the #FalconHeavy launch & #Starman required no explanation to the kids around here - cool was automatic. They were giddy, joyful - inspired. Sometimes, cool for cool's sake is OK. pic.twitter.com/GxC4sQmkp0

— Michelle Minitti (@MishOnMars) February 7, 2018

The image of Starman casually hurtling through space in a convertible car will no doubt be a source of inspiration for future generations.

Currently over Australia 🇦🇺 pic.twitter.com/HAya3E6OEJ

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 6, 2018

Live images

Live images of the rocket were streamed online to social media users.

Live Views of Starman https://t.co/G335kvVsta

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 6, 2018

Where now?

The plan now for the roadster is to transfer it into an orbit of the sun, known as a Hohmann transfer orbit.

This will take the Tesla beyond Mars' orbit of the sun.

Third burn successful. Exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt. pic.twitter.com/bKhRN73WHF

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 7, 2018

As of 11.45am today, Space Oddity has played through Elon Musk's Roadster's stereo approximately 168 times.