Pam Stone: You're gonna need a bigger rocket

Feb 12 Written by  PAM STONE

Frankly, I'm still agog.

Just so you know, the word agog is one I only carefully extract from its literary box to describe all things made unremarkable by the world weary 'awesome.'

But Gazillionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, along with the rest of his team, just launched the Falcon Heavy, the strongest and, naturally, heaviest rocket since our shuttle system began. As BBC News reported, 'it is designed to deliver a maximum payload to low-Earth orbit of 64 tonnes - the equivalent of putting five London double-decker buses in space.'

Or one Kardashian.

It is the Clydesdales of rockets, nearly twice as powerful as its closest rival, the Delta IV Heavy, but, says Mr. Musk (doesn't that name sound like a suspect in Clue?), at one third of the cost. Because it was such a risky design, Musk himself gave a successful launch only a 50/50 shot.

But, oh, what a success it was! You watched it, right? Please tell me you watched it, for in this age of violent news, social apathy and an attitude that results in our collective 'meh,' over revolutionary achievements, this was, as I eloquently described watching man's first step on the moon at the age of nine, 'Sooo cool!!'

My favorite part wasn't the massive firing up of the 27 rockets of the SpaceX, or its shudderingly beautiful, picture perfect lift off, or even the pair of sonic booms that preceded the twin side boosters that set down as delicately as a lace hankie on the two landing pads at Cape Canaveral. (And, yeah, OK, the center booster, meant to also quietly set down on a floating platform in the ocean crashed into the water instead, but who's counting?) My favorite part was the payload that was ejected into space: Musk's old cherry-red Tesla with a mannequin dressed as a spaceman and David Bowie's album, Life on Mars' playing on a continuous loop.

And for hours, as ground control to Major Tom might have ordered, we were all able to view the earth from the live feed through the windshield of the Tesla, right above a button in the dash that read DON'T PANIC, as the car set off to orbit the sun essentially forever.

Musk is said to be so buoyed by the near perfect launch of the Falcon that he now is feeling quietly confident about going to work and fulfilling his dream of sending people to Mars.

He's gonna need a bigger rocket.

True to form, Musk has one in the works. The BFR will be a giant booster rocket with a James Bond sort of spaceship that sits right on top. I'm not sure what all the initials stand for, but just guessing I'd say the B stands for Big and the R stands for Rocket.

Anything else just leaves me agog.

Last modified on Tuesday, 13 February 2018 00:02