You know when it’s just too windy to bother stepping outside? The incredible SpaceX Falcon Heavy project has been delayed by two hours – because of atmospheric gales.
It’s a bit gusty in the upper atmosphere, according to a Tweet from Elon Musk. The winds at high altitude are about 20 per cent stronger than the Falcon Heavy’s upper limits of capability, meaning that if it was launched anyway, it would probably be torn apart or tossed back to Earth like the swiftly-binned lid from a can of baked beans.
The flight was due to begin at 6.30pm UK time (1.30pm US EST), with a webcast starting 40 minutes before, but that has been put back to 8.45pm and the webcast, which you can watch via the video above, should now kick off soon.
EDIT: The launch has been given the green light for 8.45pm, or 3.45pm CET.
Falcon Heavy is twice as powerful as the next-most powerful rocket in the world today. It’s claimed to be able to lift 63.8 tonnes of payload into low Earth orbit; about the same as five New Routemaster London buses. If you want to launch a bus or five into space yourself, via Falcon Heavy, the price is a mere $90 million, although the maximum payload for a Mars mission is only 16.8 tonnes.
Elon Musk isn’t sending any buses. Nor is he sending ordinary test ballast, like concrete. He’s sending his own old Tesla Roadster. He was quoted widely as saying that using concrete or steel blocks “seemed extremely boring.”
The Roadster’s stereo will be playing David Bowie’s Space Oddity on repeat, for a journey that plans to take it to an elliptical Mars orbit for what Musk hopes will be something like a billion years. We love the track, but if it was us we might want to take a fully-stocked MP3 player too…