SpaceX has released a tear-jerking new video of the historic first flight of its Falcon Heavy rocket, which launched Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster and a dummy named Starman on a journey into the solar system on Feb. 6.
Set to David Bowie's 1971 hit "Life on Mars," the video chronicles Starman's journey into space, starting from SpaceX's Horizontal Integration Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the cherry-red electric car and its passenger were packed inside the rocket's payload fairing. The video shows the enormous rocket rolling out to the launchpad and blasting off into space, where live views of Starman were beamed down to Earth. [In Photos: SpaceX's 1st Falcon Heavy Rocket Launch Success!]
The video shows the impressive double-booster landing and the crash of the third booster, which narrowly missed SpaceX's Drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You." This is the first time SpaceX has shown the crash footage (look for it at the 1:12 mark).
But the real stars in this video are not Starman, his car or the rocket. Instead, the video highlights the vast crowds of people who gathered in and around Kennedy Space Center to watch the historic launch. Thousands of spectators assembled at the visitor center, flocked to the beaches and even pulled over in their cars to witness the momentous occasion.
Adults and children watched the launch with their mouths agape and hands in the air. In SpaceX's mission control room, the company's employees were doing the same. Onlookers everywhere — even those who watched it via webcast — were overcome with emotion during the launch.
While the mission was certainly an impressive technological feat for SpaceX, one of the most impressive aspects of this launch was SpaceX's ability to inspire the public and get people excited about space.
"Life cannot just be about solving one sad problem after another. There need to be things that inspire you, that make you glad to wake up in the morning and be part of humanity," Musk tweeted on Saturday (March 10). "That is why we did it. We did [it] for you."
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Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at FutureFlight.aero and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at Space.com. As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the Space.com team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.