El Paso, TX - Did you see a ball of light moving through the sky last night? It wasn’t a comet or a UFO, it was the SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket. Last December there was a different SpaceX launch in California that was also viewable across the Borderland.
Those who saw the rocket fly across the sky last night were very lucky. EPCC professor John Olguin says,"You have to know exactly where to look, be at the right place at the right time to really spot these things and it was really fortunate for some people to have spotted it"
The launch happened yesterday at 3:45 PM ET at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL. This was only a test launch for the Falcon Heavy, coming three months after the less powerful Falcon 9 Launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The Falcon Heavy has many functions, including its ability to bring cargo to the International space station. SpaceX says the Heavy can bring 141,000 pounds into orbit. The rocket is continuing on its test run to Mars as it could potentially be used to transport astronauts to the red planet and the moon as well.
Professor Olguin says, "The payload that we're looking at for the Falcon Heavy is something not only technologically advanced, but now you can actually develop more robust satellites. They can actually be launched up into space and you can do so much more with the capability of what the Falcon can do"
CEO and founder of SpaceX, Elon Musk, sent a red Tesla Roadster on the journey to Mars. It is the first car in space and will be put into a 1 billion year elliptical orbit around the planet. Ultimately, one of the goals of SpaceX is to colonize the planet of Mars.
As private companies become more involved in space exploration, a new space race could emerge in the near future.
"You're gonna have a lot of competition between SpaceX and Blue Origin, once Virgin Galactic gets going, and they are getting going, you're gonna see among the three a huge push and a huge move toward going into space, getting people out there, getting payloads up there," says Olguin.