Heavy lifting job a power play for Mars

Central Station | 8 Feb 2018

The most powerful spaceship lifting array blasted SpaceX's Falcon Heavy on a maiden test flight from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to what should be permanent orbit near Mars.

And it carried a cherry red Tesla roadster belonging to SpaceX chief executive and founder Elon Musk, who also set up the e-carmaker.

Screams and cheers erupted from the Cape Canaveral crowd as the Falcon Heavy's 27 engines pushed it into the sky over the same launchpad for American missions to the moon four decades ago.

Loaded along with Musk's car was a mannequin in a spacesuit to add more color to the test voyage. It's nicknamed Starman.

About two minutes into the flight two side boosters peeled away and made their way back to Earth for upright landings.

The third booster was heading for a landing on an ocean platform.

"If people think we're in a race with the Chinese this is our secret weapon: the entrepreneurship of people like Elon and others like Jeff Bezos," said former Mars test flight czar Scott Hubbard of Stanford University.

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