Elon Musk plans new SpaceX drone ship, A Shortfall of Gravitas

Last week he was looking a little more like the former as his space rocket, the Falcon Heavy, finally launched into orbit complete with one of his Tesla sportscars onboard.

On Feb. 6, SpaceX made history with the launch of the Falcon Heavy, which at liftoff set the record for most powerful rocket in the world. And with the return of two of the Falcon Heavy's reusable boosters, the company is paving the way for cheap and reliable space travel. While SpaceX was able to recover two of the three first stage boosters, the center core failed to land on the drone ship.

SpaceX operates its third ship, named Just Read the Instructions, on the West Coast for launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Officially called autonomous spaceport drone ships (ASDS), the drones take their name from space-going vessels from the Culture series of novels written by Iain M. Banks.

The name of the new drone ship is A Shortfall of Gravitas and will join the now operational Of Course I Still Love You drone ship for East Coast booster landing operations.

After the Falcon Heavy launch, from Kennedy Space Center, the rocket's the rocket's center core missed the Of Course I Still Love You ship by about 300 feet, but the force created by its 300 miles per hour water impact damaged the ship's two engines.

On Twitter, Musk explained away the crash landing: "Not enough ignition fluid to light the outer two engines after several three engine relights". "Fix is pretty obvious".

SpaceX's first Falcon Heavy rocket soars into space on February 6, 2018 after a successful debut launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

"It's like a giant catcher's mitt, in boat form", Musk told reporters after the Falcon Heavy launch.

As National Geographic reported from Cape Canaveral on Tuesday, the Falcon Heavy launch is a milestone for private companies' journey into space.

He said: "Test flights of new rockets usually contain mass simulators in the form of concrete or steel blocks". MALCOLM DENEMARK/FLORIDA TODAY Bart Stutts watches the rocket go out of site.

Thousands watched the livestream, as the vehicle was shot into space as David Bowie's "Life on Mars" played.

  • Joey Payne