Elon Musk Explains Why SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Core Booster Crashed

SpaceX launch shows promise

SpaceX launch shows promise

During the launch of Falcon Heavy, Elon Musk's personal cherry colored Tesla roadster was in headlines nearly everywhere, but this historic rocket also carried another payload within it nearly nobody knew about.

Last week, SpaceX launched the Falcon Heavy rocket, which embarked on an elliptical orbit around the sun extending as far out as Mars' orbit.

Landing used rocket cores and reusing them is one of the main selling points of SpaceX and one of the reasons why the company's CEO Elon Musk believes he can cut costs massively for each launch.

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"We tried to cancel the Falcon Heavy program three times at SpaceX, because it [was] way harder than we thought", said Musk in a press briefing after the launch.

After the Falcon Heavy launch, from Kennedy Space Center, the rocket's the rocket's center core missed the Of Course I Still Love You ship by about 300 feet, but the force created by its 300 miles per hour water impact damaged the ship's two engines. "Just Read the Instructions" is in the Pacific for launches from Vandenberg, and "Of Course I Still Love You" in the Atlantic for launches from Cape Canaveral.

"Not enough ignition fluid to light the outer two engines after several three engine relights", Musk wrote. "Fix is pretty obvious". Whether that's the case or not, though, it would make for major business for Port Canaveral over the long run, since the rockets would be transported to the port, where SpaceX has a 53,000-square-foot refurbishment center and is leasing 2.2 acres of land next to the center to build a 67,000-square-foot building.

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The ship appears to be named in honor of the fictional spaceship "Experiencing A Significant Gravitas Shortfall" in the science fiction books "Look to Windward" and "Matter" by the late author Iain M. Banks. The latter is based at Port Canaveral and returns Falcon 9 boosters to facilities near the port for post-launch checkouts.

It's not just Falcon Heavy that benefits, according to Musk.

In the meantime, SpaceX still has a full slate of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches on tap in 2018.

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Once fully operational, the Falcon Heavy would be capable of carrying payloads as heavy as 119,000 pounds to low-Earth orbit or almost double the capacity of its competitor Delta IV Heavy that can lift more than 62,000 pounds. SpaceX has successfully landed multiple Falcon 9 rockets on the ship in the past.

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