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SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch was a total success, except for the two things that went wrong

Updated Feb 7th, 2018 8:32AM EST
SpaceX Falcon Heavy Tesla

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SpaceX reached a new milestone on Tuesday when it successfully launched its Falcon Heavy rocket into space, complete with a Tesla Roadster aimed at Mars. The YouTube live stream alone is a testament to the significance of the launch, reaching more than 2.3 million concurrent views on YouTube. That makes it the second biggest live stream in YouTube’s history.

But the Falcon Heavy test drive wasn’t a complete success, and SpaceX has to fix two major problems.

First of all, the Falcon Heavy middle buster, the one that carried the payload the furthest, did not make a safe return. Rather than landing on SpaceX’s barge at sea as expected, it crashed into the ocean at speeds in excess of 300 mph. It also touched down some 300 feet from the target drone ship.

“It was enough to take out two thrusters and shower the deck with shrapnel,” Musk said, per Engadget. The CEO says that SpaceX is already looking at the issue, and they might have video. “It sounds like some pretty fun footage… if the cameras didn’t get blown up as well,” he added.

The Falcon Heavy rocket has three boosters, including two outer cores that landed successfully at Cape Canaveral, after breaking away from the middle center some two and a half minutes after liftoff, and the central core which failed to return safely to Earth.

Here’s how the launch should have gone:

Here’s the actual launch:

And here’s the first confirmation that the center core was lost:

The other issue that Space X might not be happy about concerns that Tesla Roadster that’s on Autopilot — pun totally intended — towards Mars. Apparently, Autopilot doesn’t work in space either, as it looks like SpaceX overshot Mars’ orbit and it’s going towards the asteroid belt instead of the red planet.

The roadster went for a special flyby of around six hours, The Verge explains, to show off a certain orbit maneuver to the US Air Force.

After that, the car should have been placed on an orbit towards Mars. Musk confirmed on Twitter that, even though the rocket burn was “successful,” the roadster missed its Mars orbit.

Instead, the Tesla vehicle is now en route into the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Thankfully, it’s got cameras on board, and we’re going to see plenty of neat pics from space in spite of this failure.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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