A Red Car for the Red Planet Test flights of new rockets usually contain mass simulators in the form of concrete or steel blocks. That seemed extremely boring. Of course, anything boring is terrible, especially companies, so we decided to send something unusual, something that made us feel. The payload will be an original Tesla Roadster, playing Space Oddity, on a billion year elliptic Mars orbit.
After he first floated the idea of sending his midnight cherry Tesla Roadster to space as the dummy load for the maiden flight of SpaceX's new Falcon Heavy rocket, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has now shared photos of the car as it's being prepped for its interplanetary voyage.
While there was some confusion as to whether Musk was actually serious when he first mentioned sending his car to float in 'deep space for a billion years', a Reddit photo that surfaced earlier in the week seemed to lend credence to the idea that the eccentric CEO was, in fact, planning on doing just that. The new photos, shared on Musk's Instagram account, show the car between two halves of the payload fairing the caps the new rocket and should remove any doubts regarding Musk's intentions.
The move isn't just the result of a billionaire's whims. Falcon Heavy, the rocket aboard which the Roadster will leave the confines of this earth, is a newfangled creation by SpaceX that combines three of the thrusters found on a Falcon 9. Given that there's a very good chance the rocket may simply explode on this first test flight, sending any real cargo of value aboard the Heavy was a no-no. As Musk explains,
"Test flights of new rockets usually contain mass simulators in the form of concrete or steel blocks. That seemed extremely boring.
Of course, anything boring is terrible, especially companies, so we decided to send something unusual, something that made us feel."
If successful, the outing will mark the first flight of what is considered the most powerful rocket in the world, and will significantly bolster Tesla's ambitions for interplanetary travel, allowing the company to send even larger payloads into the Earth's orbit and also allowing it to reach further into the solar system.