SpaceX is about to host a press conference detailing the events of the Falcon Heavy launch and — hopefully — sharing what happened to the center core. The news conference won’t start until at least 6:45 p.m. Eastern. Early reports indicated that the press conference wasn’t going to be live streamed, but now there’s a stream from ABC News, which you can watch above. This stream was shared on Twitter by writers for NASA Space Flight.
We’ll update this story live with details about the press conference and what’s shared as soon as they are available. The first part of the Falcon Heavy Launch was a big success. Both side boosters landed perfectly. But we haven’t heard what happened to the center core.
What’s next for the Tesla? The mission will continue on an experimental long coast through the Van Allen radiation belts, which could last five to six hours. This leaves more things to chance, such as the fuel possibly freezing, oxygen vaporizing, and other issues that could hurt the rocket’s ability to reach trans-Mars injection. Problems at that stage might mean that the Roadster doesn’t escape Earth’s orbit but burns up in the atmosphere instead. If the coast stage is successful, the Roadster will then separate from the upper stage, targeting a heliocentric orbit. In other words, it will orbit the sun and be in close proximity to Mars during certain points of its orbit. The rocket’s payload stage will pop off the fairing’s two halves, exposing the Tesla Roadster. Yes, a bright red Tesla is indeed being sent off into space.
According to SpaceX’s animation, the Tesla Roadster will then coast in hyperbolic orbit to Mars at about seven miles per second. The Tesla won’t actually get as close to Mars as SpaceX’s animation showed. “It will be in an elliptical orbit with one part of the ellipse being at Earth orbit and one part being at Mars orbit, so it will essentially be an Earth–Mars cycler,” Musk said to Florida Today. “We estimate it’ll be in that orbit for several hundred million years, maybe even in excess of a billion years.”
We will update this story with details from the press conference as soon as they are available.