SpaceX to launch the most powerful rocket in decades

SpaceX is about to shoot one of the most powerful rockets up into space, carrying a car. But the end could be just as much of a breakthrough.

This week's rocket launch will see a massively powerful rocket launched into the sky. Inside will be a Tesla Roadster, which if all goes well will float around space for billions of years.

But that same rocket will drop back down onto Earth, landing in three parts so that they can potentially be used again.

If the rocket successfully manages to lift off and take its payload up into space, it will mark a major breakthrough. The rocket is twice as powerful as the ones in use today, and the most powerful used since Saturn V – as such, it could be the perfect thing to carry us into deep space.

But it will make a pioneering move on its way down too, SpaceX hopes. The return mission will be the first time that more than one rocket has successfully landed after taking off, if it manages to do so.

The main rocket will come back to land on SpaceX's droneship, known as "Of Course I Still Love You", which can autonomously float around the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX has successfully landed rockets on there before.

But it will also try and bring its two side cores back down to land at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

SpaceX is trying to reliably land and re-use its Falcon rockets, to bring down the cost of spaceflight. If they can be successfully recovered from the ocean – as has happened before – then they can be sent back up again, rather than requiring a whole new booster.

The company warned local residents that they might hear a number of strange noises as the rockets attempt to land.

"There is the possibility that residents of Brevard, Indian River, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Volusia counties may hear one or more sonic booms during the landing attempts," it wrote in a statement. "Residents of Brevard County are most likely to hear one or more sonic booms, although what residents’ experience will depend on weather conditions and other factors.

"A sonic boom is a brief thunder-like noise a person on the ground hears when an aircraft or other vehicle flies overhead faster than the speed of sound."

The company also warned the public that the launch schedule could change, and that the launch could not take place on Wednesday.


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