- SpaceX is getting ready to launch its Falcon Heavy rocket.
- The mission – if all goes according to plan – involves the rocket’s three boosters separating, flipping, and landing back on Earth.
- Two of the boosters are supposed to touch down on land, while the last one should land on a drone ship in the ocean.
- A Tesla Roadster inside will continue out toward Mars.
- Here’s a graphic showing all the steps of the mission.
SpaceX is getting ready to launch its biggest rocket to date.
The Falcon Heavy launch is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon after facing some delays.
The trajectory is pretty complex, but SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted out all of the complicated steps in one graphic.
If everything goes according to plan, all three of the rocket’s 134-foot boosters should separate, do a few flip maneuvers, and land back on Earth as the payload (Musk’s Tesla Roadster) carries on toward Mars.
The two side boosters are supposed return to Earth shortly after ascent, landing on the ground near where the rocket lifted off in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Then the center booster will stick with the payload a little longer before returning to Earth, hopefully landing on the drone ship named “Of Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic Ocean.
The whole point of landing the boosters, and the mission in general, is to make spaceflight cheaper by making large, expensive parts of the rocket reusable. And Musk hopes this first Falcon Heavy launch will be a pivotal step in getting humans to Mars.
Here’s what the process looks like step-by-step: