Elon Musk’s Thun­der­bird is Go

Motor Trend (USA) - - Intake - Words and Re­search Scott Evans Illustration Paul Laguette

In early Fe­bru­ary, Spacex launched its first Fal­con Heavy rocket into or­bit, car­ry­ing Spacex and Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s per­sonal Road­ster as a test pay­load, and then suc­cess­fully landed two of the three rocket boost­ers. It

was an in­cred­i­ble achieve­ment, and it got us think­ing about what it would take for our Truck of the Year to do the same. So we did the math.

STRUTTER Keep­ing the three cores of the Fal­con Heavy to­gether are a pair of struts con­nect­ing them at the top and bot­tom of the first stages.

STARMAN The Fal­con Heavy’s maiden flight shot a Tesla Road­ster out into the so­lar sys­tem with a cool pas­sen­ger lis­ten­ing to David Bowie.

HOT FEET The land­ing gear folds out just be­fore the first stage touches down on ei­ther the drone land­ing ship or the land­ing zone.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER The 27 (9 x 3) Mer­lin en­gines are not named for the myth­i­cal Arthurian sorcerer. It refers to a small species of ... fal­con. * Low Earth or­bit; Geosyn­chronous or­bit

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