IT WAS not the much anticipated take-off that took your breath away. It was the landings. Eight minutes after they had lifted the first SpaceX Falcon Heavy off its pad at Cape Canaveral on February 6th, two of its three boosters returned. Preceded by the flames of their rockets, followed by their sonic booms, the slender towers touched down on neighbouring landing pads a fraction of a second apart. After such power, such delicacy.
Up above the atmosphere, the rocket’s second stage opened its fairing to reveal its cargo: a red roadster made by Tesla, a company which is also run by Elon Musk. The dummy sitting at its wheel wore a SpaceX spacesuit, David Bowie played on the stereo, the motto from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”—“Don’t panic!”—was displayed on the dashboard.