One of the greatest visionaries in the galaxy is set to launch the one of the most powerful and operational rockets ever assembled into space this week.  Elon Musk, who’s imagination is as deep as a black hole, is not only the founder of privately owned SpaceX, but may be the person who paves the way for mass human migration beyond Earth’s atmosphere.  The launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy on Febuary 6th will showcase the ability to lift the equivalent of a 737 jetliner filled with passengers, luggage, and fuel, packing nearly 23,000 kilonewtons of thrust from its 27 Merlin engines.  The goal of the test launch is to prove that the Falcon Heavy can be the blueprint for a reusable space vehicle that would allow us to send a large payload into a hyperbolic deep space orbit and eventually migrate to other planets in the future.  This is known as the Hohmann transfer.  With a successful launch SpaceX would be taking a taking a major leap towards its goal of bringing a human colony to the surface of Mars.

The attempt alone is impressive on paper.  The rocket stands 230 feet in height, will generate over five million pounds of thrust at liftoff, and there’s a possibility that six surrounding counties in central Florida may hear one or more sonic booms during the landing attempts.  (Brevard, Indian River, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Volusia).  Musk has also estimated that SpaceX has invested about 500 million dollars to develop the new rocket. If the launch is successful, SpaceX will be known in creating easily the biggest and most advanced rocket in the world.  While this is a test flight, a successful launch will surely catapult SpaceX advances in which Musk states “I think we’d be ready to put satellites on the next mission.”  The mission Musk is referring to could take place within the next three to six months and continue SpaceX’s momentum to Mars.

Due to cautionary protocol, the Falcon Heavy will only be carrying a dummy payload on its first flight.  And while the long term goal is to migrate past the moon, Musk has said to consider this test a win as long as the rocket doesn’t explode into a billion pieces.  Musk has stated that they will not be sending tourists around the moon in 2018 on the Falcon Heavy.  Instead, SpaceX will be using the BFR (Big Falcon Rocket).  This should be the very next rocket launched after the Falcon Heavy this week and is designed to launch hundreds of people into space at one time. Contingent upon BFR’s scheduled completion, Musk has stated SpaceX will send people, including two tourists into space on this rocket.  If the rocket is not completed on schedule than SpaceX will revert to the idea of sending people into space using the Falcon Heavy.  Either way, the time seems to be right around the corner for space travel to be feasible among some of Earth’s general population.

The Falcon Heavy will begin its maiden voyage at launch pad 39A in Cape Canaveral with an estimated 100,000 spectators visiting to witness the event.  This is the same historic site where NASA’s Apollo moon missions launched.  It seems to be a stage set for stardom, and with Musk’s red Tesla Roadster on board, along with David Bowie’s classic “Space Oddity” playing on loop within the vehicle, this could one small launch for man followed by one giant launch for mankind.

The colonization to Mars is no longer a question of if, but a question of when.  When will the rockets provide enough data to instill trust in the average citizen?  When will living be sustainable on Mars?  When will we know proper space protocol when we do colonize?  With a successful launch of the Falcon Heavy, many of these questions will be answered sooner rather than later.  One thing is for certain, before a cosmic colony can be built, the regulations and laws to govern it must be written by lawyers educated in space law.  There will be many, many legal issues arising
out of this orbit and knowledge of space law will be vital for lawyers to stand as a benchmark for the future.  Without space lawyers, our dreams of living beyond our planet may come to a standstill; we need you now for a mission critical practice, the practice of outer space law.  Our mission at the Intergalactic Bar Association is to enable the fulfillment of that great dream of humanity to travel to the stars by preparing the next generation of lawyers to be some of the Greatest Lawyers in the Galaxy.

***Update – The Falcon Heavy was a successful launch.