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Elon Musk looks beyond Falcon Heavy triumph

Elon Musk
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk meets the press at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX’s billionaire founder, Elon Musk, says that even he was surprised by how successful the first flight of his company’s Falcon Heavy rocket turned out to be, and that it boosted his confidence about building an even bigger rocket ship that could someday send settlers to Mars.

“It’s surreal to me,” Musk admitted tonight during a post-launch news conference at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, which provided the base of operations for today’s test flight.

Musk said half-jokingly that he had visions of a catastrophic failure. “I had this image of a giant explosion on the pad, a wheel bouncing down the road and a Tesla logo landing somewhere,” he told reporters. “But fortunately, that’s not what happened.”

Instead, SpaceX provided the first demonstration of what is now the world’s most powerful rocket in operation, and created a viral sensation by sending a Tesla Roadster sports car into a long, looping orbit that will go out beyond the orbit of Mars, with the driver’s seat occupied by a “Starman” mannequin wearing a standard-issue SpaceX spacesuit.

“It taught me, like, crazy things can come true,” Musk said.

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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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