On February 6, 2018, SpaceX made history…again. The SpaceX team successfully launched a Falcon Heavy rocket–a massive rocket on par with the Saturn V rockets used by NASA to transport astronauts to the Moon. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, was understandably excited. In fact, he pretty much freaked out.
National Geographic was on site at the launch and captured exclusive footage of the elated Musk witnessing the Falcon Heavy launch. The Nat Geo camera crew has been following Musk and the SpaceX team, gathering footage to use in season 2 of MARS–which is scheduled to air this fall.
A Nat Geo post about the launch quotes Elon Musk, explaining, “Crazy things can come true. When I see a rocket lift off, I see a thousand things that could not work, and it’s amazing when they do.”
The launch of the Falcon Heavy was a monumental achievement. In a post-launch press conference, Musk explained that the project had almost been scrapped on multiple occasions over the years. It was much more challenging than they had originally anticipated.
The Falcon Heavy combines three Falcon 9 rockets to provide enough thrust to launch 141,000 pounds of cargo into low-Earth orbit. That is the equivalent of two adult sperm whales. In this case, the Falcon Heavy was carrying particularly unique cargo–Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster with Starman, a mannequin in a space suit, occupying the driver’s seat. The Tesla is set on a trajectory for an elliptical orbit around the sun.
SpaceX has achieved a variety of milestones and has been instrumental in helping supply the International Space Station, as well as pushing the envelope for rocket technology and capabilities. Those are just incremental steps in a much longer journey, though. The entire purpose and mission of SpaceX is to get humans to Mars and help mankind establish itself beyond planet Earth.
That focus is why Elon Musk and SpaceX have also played a very central role in the MARS series on Nat Geo. MARS combines real world and historical footage of space exploration with a fictional narrative of a manned mission to Mars that occurs in the not-too-distant future. It will be interesting to see what SpaceX does next, and it will be interesting to see what role SpaceX, Elon Musk, and the Falcon Heavy launch play in the next season of MARS.