SpaceX, a private space transport company owned by American billionaire Elon Musk, has launched the world’s most powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy. It is the larger version of the Falcon 9 rocket, which has successfully been putting payloads into space for years. The booster is made up of three rockets strapped together for combined thrust.
The Falcon Heavy was developed over a period of 7 years and cost about $500 million. It is 23 stories tall and has 27 engines. The rocket’s thrust equals that of 18 Boeing 747 jumbo jets.
The new rocket is designed to send large satellites into earth orbit. It can carry 64 metric tons, twice the payload of other rockets, into space at a lower price. The rocket can also transport spacecraft to destinations further away from earth. In addition, its starting boosters are reusable.
The first flight was set to travel as far as the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The rocket had an electric sports car, Elon Musk’s privateTesla Roadster, on board.
SpaceX has been flying NASA cargo missions to the International Space Station for a few years. The company wants to compete with other business in carrying payloads to space. Musk’s company has several commercial customers and has been receiving contracts to fly government payloads. The first manned mission to space is planned for the end of 2018.
- asteroid belt = large rocks that move around the sun between Mars and Jupiter
- billionaire = person who has a billion dollars, euros etc.. or more
- booster = a rocket that gives you the power to leave the earth
- cargo mission = here: a trip that carries goods and other products into space
- commercial = here: private
- compete = be as good as or better than others
- contract = an agreement to do a job for someone
- design = the way something should work
- destination = place you want to go to
- develop = to design and create a new product
- equal = the same as
- in addition = also
- International Space Station = ISS = space station that was built by scientists from 16 countries; it is mainly used for scientific experiments
- launch = to send an object into space
- manned mission = here: trip that sends people into space
- orbit = move around an object in a circle
- payload = the goods or products that a machine transports to a place
- receive = get
- reusable = you can use it again
- several = some, a few
- stories = floors
- strapped together = bind together so that it works as one
- successfully = if something works the way it should
- thrust = power of an engine that makes a rocket move upwards
- twice = two times