Although our return to the Moon and a voyage to Mars are seemingly on the table for the not-too-distant future (depending on who one asks and when), we are definitely making strides in space travel again already. Particularly via the private sector, like with Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
One mission that has space enthusiasts eager with excitement is their SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch. Part of this mission is to test solar sail technology. This uses the pressure of sunlight for propulsion, a science that has been intriguing many science nerds for a long time now.
How do solar sails work?
Elon Musk called the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch the most difficult yet for his company, as it saw SpaceX deposit 24 satellites into three different orbits around Earth. These satellites came from agencies like the Pentagon, NASA and several others. And all at the price tag of $750 million dollars. Ouch. The Falcon Heavy launched from Kennedy Space Center at 2:30 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, June 25, 2019.
This wasl be the third flight of the Falcon Heavy, and included a recovery of all three first stage core boosters; the two back at Cape Canaveral and one on an off-shore droneship. This continues to solidify this classification of rocket as an excellent means of launching expensive high-priority national security payloads, and would be a major boost for SpaceX (no pun intended).
One of the more interesting things of note about this mission is the fact that there are the cremated ashes of some 152 space aficionados, whose earthly remains will finally get to leave the Earth behind. The company behind this unique service is called Celestis Memorial Spaceflights, which you can find more information about here, assuming you want to be “buried” out in space that is!
Images: NASA/Joel Kowsky