SpaceX Launched a Tesla into Space
On Tuesday, February 6th, Elon Musk and SpaceX sent a Tesla to space. Yes, that’s right, they shot a car into space.
The payload for Falcon Heavy’s demonstration mission is SpaceX CEO and Lead Designer Elon Musk’s midnight-cherry Tesla Roadster. Demonstration missions like this one typically carry steel or concrete blocks as mass simulators, but SpaceX decided it would be more worthwhile to launch something fun and without irreplaceable sentimental value: a red Roadster for the red planet. Following launch, Falcon Heavy’s second stage will attempt to place the Roadster into a precessing Earth-Mars elliptical orbit around the sun.
So why did they send a car into space? Well, it was a stunt, but with a purpose. Today, they were testing the Falcon Heavy rockets. These rockets will be the ones SpaceX will use to send people to Mars. The reusable rockets are groundbreaking. They have the highest capacity in any rocket ever. The rockets are a culmination of years of planning, tests, and failures.
When Falcon Heavy lifts off in 2018, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. With the ability to lift into orbit nearly 64 metric tons (141,000 lb)—a mass greater than a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel–Falcon Heavy can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost. Falcon Heavy draws upon the proven heritage and reliability of Falcon 9.
The Tesla that was sent up is their first model, the Roadster. This Roadster is cherry-red, to symbolically match Mars. Inside, they had a dummy wearing a SpaceX space suit sitting in the front seat, appropriately named “Starman”. The car also has a big “Don’t Panic” sign on the dashboard for any hitchhikers in our galaxy. It’s also said that the car had David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” blasting on the radio. Not that it matters since there are no molecules for the sound to reverberate against. The dummy will be riding with the top down in space for as long as he stays in orbit. That could possibly be hundreds or thousands of years. Musk did mention there is a very small possibility that the car could get close enough to Mars to crash into the surface, but it’s a really small possibility. Oh and you can watch the live stream of Starman on his ride, for now.
What do you think of a Tesla being in space? Is it a waste of a Tesla or a fun test of the Falcon Heavy’s capabilities? Let us know in the comments!