Elon Musk, famous rogue billionaire and CEO of SpaceX, is known for his penchant for the extraordinary and quirky. Thus, he tweeted a strange new idea this Friday, the truth of which was asserted the very next day: sending one of his Tesla Roadsters out in the depths of space using his company’s proprietary rocket, Falcon Heavy.
Payload will be my midnight cherry Tesla Roadster playing Space Oddity. Destination is Mars orbit. Will be in deep space for a billion years or so if it doesn’t blow up on ascent.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 2, 2017
Nonetheless, a very atypical discussion ensued between the billionaire and The Verge. We requested a firm confirmation of the plan after its publishing on Twitter. Mr. Musk provided the confirmation by email. After we published an article explaining the plan and ascribing Mr. Musk’s confirmation to it, the CEO sent us a Twitter message stating that the plan was entirely made up. This later turned out to be untrue, as a trusted source confirmed with The Verge on Saturday evening that Musk’s idea would indeed be put into action.
SpaceX’s rocket will send Musk’s Tesla Roadster out into space. Colored midnight cherry, the car will be playing David Bowie’s famous tune Space Oddity while drifting out into the void. Musk declared that the intended destination is the orbit of the planet Mars, adding that it will spend billions of years in the depths of space unless the Falcon Heavy blows up upon lift-off.
Silliest thing we can imagine! Secret payload of 1st Dragon flight was a giant wheel of cheese. Inspired by a friend & Monty Python.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 31, 2017
On that note, the CEO has freely discussed that there is an off-chance for the Falcon Heavy to go up in flames on its first lift-off, going so far as to once state his desire to load the rocket with “the silliest thing we can imagine”. Only now are his intentions clarified, although it is not yet clear whether the company has any pertinent okays for their idea.
The Falcon Heavy is the second model in a series of rockets conceived by SpaceX, its less powerful ancestor being the Falcon 9. The firm has expressed hopes of sending the Heavy model to the Red Planet and to the Moon. Its initial flight plan would have seen it take off 3 or 4 years ago, but its first flight is now officially scheduled for the first month of 2018, the CEO reports.
The parts that the Falcon Heavy is comprised of have undergone significant testing throughout 2017, with SpaceX preparing a very special launchpad for their project: the same one from which the Apollo 11 took off.
If we were to be reductive, we could think of the Falcon Heavy as a sort of Siamese twin born by strapping together three Falcon 9 rockets. This entails that its thrust would be greater than that of a Falcon 9 model by a factor of three, permitting the company to organize missions in areas of space beyond the lower sections of our planet’s orbit.
Just like in the case of their previous Falcon 9 launch, SpaceX has expressed hopes of coming into the possession of the three rocket cores used to provide energy to the Heavy model. It is currently unknown where the firm is also exploring the possibility to retrieve Falcon Heavy’s boosters.
As is expected of the quirky billionaire, Elon Musk declared his intention to pool SpaceX’s resources into a rocket larger than both the Falcon Heavy and the Falcon 9 at the International Astronautical Congress this autumn. He calls it the Interplanetary Transport System (or, as an endearing nickname and short form, the Big Fucking Rocket).
This new plan’s endgame is building a sort of uber-rocket that could perform the same tasks as those performed by the previous rockets, while also being able to provide an option for people to travel between continents in 30 minutes and even be able to land a colony on Mars.
Considering the breadth and scope of this idea, launching an electric car in space seems quite tame.