SpaceX on Tuesday completed a successful test flight of its Falcon Heavy rocket, which also released Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster into space.
Falcon Heavy earns its name; it’s “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,” according to SpaceX.
It’s not exactly cheap, though. In a Tuesday evening press conference, SpaceX chief Elon Musk estimated that Falcon Heavy development has cost about half a billion dollars thus far. And it almost never happened; Musk said he contemplated canceling the Falcon Heavy project at least three times “because it was like, ‘man, this was way harder than we thought.'” But persistence paid off.
As for why Musk’s Tesla Roadster was along for the ride, Musk said test payloads are usually something “boring” like blocks of concrete. The car, complete with a spacesuit-wearing mannequin, “is something that’s going to get people excited around the world.”
SpaceX is currently broadcasting a live stream of the Roadster and its passenger, dubbed Starman. “You can tell it’s real because it looks so fake,” Musk quipped. “It’s kind of silly and fun, but I think silly, fun things are important.”
As for the launch itself, “it’s still tripping me out,” Musk said Tuesday. “I’m tripping balls here.”
For a look at that launch, check out the photos and videos below.