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Elon Musk explains Falcon Heavy’s risks and rewards

Falcon Heavy separation
The Falcon Heavy rocket’s side-booster separation procedure is one of the riskiest parts of the ascent. (SpaceX via YouTube)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Launching the Falcon Heavy rocket is arguably one of the riskiest operations that SpaceX has ever taken on, but billionaire CEO Elon Musk says he’s made his peace with the risks.

“Normally I feel super-stressed out the day before,” he told reporters today, on the eve of Tuesday’s first planned countdown for the massive, 230-foot-tall rocket. “This time I don’t. That may be a bad sign, I’m not sure. I feel quite giddy and happy, actually. … I’m sure we’ve done everything we could do to maximize the chance of success with this mission.”

If all goes well, SpaceX will demonstrate its ability to put hefty payloads into high Earth orbits, and potentially go well beyond Earth orbit. This time around, Musk is sending out a red Tesla Roadster with a dummy in the driver’s seat — but the same rocket power could be applied to more serious payloads such as spy satellites.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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