Rumors have been denied that Silvano Payne, publisher of Satnews, arranged the SmallSat Symposium to coincide with the launch of Elon Musk's SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, the world's first most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. But it is a fact that the morning's keynote speaker was Dr. Hans Koenigsmann, Vice President of Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX who shared his expertise and enthusiasm for the launch.
And so it happened. A successful launch and the room rocked with cheers as the speakers temporarily halted their discussion for the launch to be broadcast on the jumbo screens in the main session auditorium of the most powerful rocket to leave Earth in a generation from Florida.
And the cherry on top of this amazing feat is that it is carrying a $100,000 red Tesla Roadster sports car belonging to the company’s billionaire founder, Elon Musk.
Add to all this is another remarkable feat when the two Falcon 9 side boosters landed at pads designated Landing Zone 1 and 2 at the former Launch Complex 13 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station almost simultaneously. The core center booster attempted to land aboard “Of Course I Still Love You,” a drone barge that SpaceX uses but was unsuccessful.
The payload for Falcon Heavy’s demonstration mission is SpaceX CEO and Lead Designer Elon Musk’s midnight-cherry Tesla Roadster. Demonstration missions like this one typically carry steel or concrete blocks as mass simulators, but SpaceX decided it would be more worthwhile to launch something fun and without irreplaceable sentimental value: a red Roadster for the red planet. Following launch, Falcon Heavy’s second stage will attempt to place the Roadster into a precessing Earth-Mars elliptical orbit around the sun.
SpaceX adds that it’s important to remember that this mission is a test flight. Even if we do not complete all of the experimental milestones that are being attempted during this test, we will still be gathering critical data throughout the mission. Ultimately, a successful demonstration mission will be measured by the quality of information we can gather to improve the launch vehicle for our existing and future customers.