There’s a Starman sitting in a Tesla, thanks to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket that took off from Cape Canaveral yesterday.
It’s 2018, and the world is well-versed with the tongue-in-cheek genius that is Elon Musk. So as cool as this is, let’s be honest – it’s almost expected of him.
Yesterday, the billionaire’s SpaceX lauched the world’s most powerful rocket to date into space. The $90 million Falcon Heavy took off from Florida’s Cape Canerval, witnessed by hundreds who knew that this wasn’t any old rocket launch – it was one sending the first car into space.
The Tesla Roadster was attached to the rocket’s upper stage, and if all goes well, it will fire out towards Mars’ elliptical orbit for billions of years. If not, Plan B is that it spends the rest of its existence going around Earth.
In it sits a lone dummy dubbed Starman, jamming to David Bowie’s Space Oddity. Starman is wearing SpaceX’s new spacesuit and brings along a disk of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy.
Watching the Falcon Heavy launch video, you’ll hear Life on Mars playing at the SpaceX launch centre as its side boosters descend back to land. Two boosters landed vertically and one was ruined as it crashed into the Atlantic ocean, as predicted by the company.
So did he do it for science? For childhood dreams? For Bowie? Or is Elon Musk really just an alien trying to find his way back home?
View from SpaceX Launch Control. Apparently, there is a car in orbit around Earth. pic.twitter.com/QljN2VnL1O
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 6, 2018
Certain scientific quarters have taken this as a show of Musk’s show of brazen ego – a billionaire genius sending a car to space in his own rocket, because he can. The payload is a sum of pop culture and childhood dreams, seemingly free of greater scientific purpose.
To put into perspective just how big of a deal this rocket is, Falcon Heavy is only bested by Saturn V rockets involved in the Apollo moon mission. Musk has described Falcon Heavy as the first in the ‘superheavy class’ of rockets. It is able to carry a 63,503kg payload, which is easily more than double than any other rocket in the market.
Having it carry and shoot a car into space is a pioneering test, and the alien genius is, of course, aware of this. He’s explained that sending the Roadster was an experiment in itself, hence the dummy payload.
Before lift-off, Musk said, “If we are successful, it’s game over for other operators of heavy-lift rockets. It’s like where one aircraft company has reusable aircraft and all the other aircraft companies had aircraft that were single-use, and you’d sort of parachute out at your destination and the plane would crash land somewhere. Crazy at it sounds, that’s how the rocket business works.”
Images courtesy of SpaceX.