Watch the Live Launch of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, the Rocket That Might Take Us to Mars

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

It's been a long road for SpaceX's Falcon Heavy. Since plans of its development were first announced in 2011, the project has seen numerous setbacks. Now, the super-sized rocket is finally set to lift off today, February 6, and anyone with an internet connection can watch it in real time.

If it works, Falcon Heavy will make history as the world's most powerful rocket in operation. In what amounts to three of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets strapped together, the rocket boasts 27 engines capable of transporting almost 64 metric tons (141,000 pounds) of payload past Earth's atmosphere.

There's a reason no other rocket has been built with that kind of firepower: All those engines need to work in sync in order to produce the 5 million pounds of thrust that will lift the load off the ground. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has emphasized that the risk of failure is high, even though everything went according to plan in the engine test-fire.

The success of today's launch would change the future of space travel. A rocket capable of carrying such heavy loads could be used to eventually send supplies, habitat modules, and people to Mars. In the short term, it would make shooting heavier satellites into orbit a possibility.

The only extra cargo Falcon Heavy is carrying today is Elon Musk's Tesla roadster. If all goes as planned, the rocket will launch the car into the Hohmann transfer orbit around the sun, which is about equivalent to the distance from our planet to Mars.

Falcon Heavy is scheduled to launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida today, February 6, between 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET. You can catch the livestream of the event at SpaceX's official YouTube channel.

[h/t The Verge]

This Cool T-Shirt Shows Every Object Brought on the Apollo 11 Mission

Fringe Focus
Fringe Focus

NASA launched the Apollo 11 mission on July 16, 1969, ending the space race and beginning a new era of international space exploration. Just in time for the mission's 50th anniversary this year, Fringe Focus is selling a t-shirt that displays every item the Apollo 11 astronauts brought with them to the Moon.

The design, by artist Rob Loukotka, features some of the iconic objects from the mission, such as a space suit and helmet, as well as the cargo that never made it to primetime. Detailed illustrations of freeze-dried meals, toiletries, and maintenance kits are included on the shirt. The artist looked at 200 objects and chose to represent some similar items with one drawing, ending up with 69 pictures in total.

The unisex shirt is made from lightweight cotton, and comes in seven sizes ranging from small to 4XL. It's available in black heather or heather midnight navy for $29.

If you really like the design, the artwork is available in other forms. The same illustration has also been made into poster with captions indicating which pictures represent multiple items of a similar nature.

The International Space Station Will Start Accepting Visitors … For $58 Million

iStock/forplayday
iStock/forplayday

If you've ever wanted to visit the International Space Station, your chance is coming soon—assuming you have a few million set aside. Recently, NASA announced that this orbiting outpost will be open to private citizens starting in 2020.

However, it won't be cheap. According to The Denver Post, each trip could last up to 30 days, and NASA estimates the cost of a round trip at $58 million, as well as an additional $35,000 charge per night. And, it's not just for kicks—you need to have a mission of your own. The space agency is allowing companies that want to conduct commercial or marketing work to send employees to the ISS as long as they meet one of the three requirements:

  • require the unique microgravity environment to enable manufacturing, production, or development of a commercial application;
  • have a connection to NASA's mission; or
  • support the development of a sustainable low-Earth orbit economy

The space station had a visitor back in 2001—Californian businessman Dennis Titobecame history's first space tourist when he spent a week aboard the ISS with two Russian cosmonauts who took him out there on a Russian spacecraft—but this would be a first for NASA. The agency was opposed to training and flying with Tito back in 2001; at the time, NASA administrator Daniel Goldin said, "Space is dangerous. It's not a joyride. Space is not about egos."

Now, NASA is ready to open the shuttle doors to private citizens. In addition to U.S. citizens, those from other countries are eligible to travel as long as they fly on a U.S.-operated rocket. These lucky private astronauts will have to go through the same medical checks, physical training, and certification procedures as crew members before traveling—a process that could take up to two years.

Along with this exciting news, NASA has bigger plans in mind. They are considering the possibility of a private sector company eventually taking control of the station and paying for its expensive upkeep. NASA has yet to announce when this transition would take place, but said in a statement that the "ultimate goal in low-Earth orbit is to partner with industry to achieve a strong ecosystem in which NASA is one of many customers purchasing services and capabilities at lower cost."

In addition, they hope that the revenue will assist in the operational costs for NASA's Artemis program, which is focused on sending astronauts—including the first woman—to the Moon by 2024.

[h/t The Denver Post]

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