No Road(ster)s In Space? Think Again

Samantha Stirmel/Staff Reporter

Elon Musk, renowned founder and CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX Aerospace Company, will be sacrificing his own car in 2018. Musk will be blasting his “midnight cherry Tesla Roadster playing Space Oddity” as the payload on the first flight of the Falcon Heavy. This comes after two tweets on Twitter from the famous CEO that claimed that the Falcon Heavy is to launch next month from the Apollo 11 pad at Cape Canaveral. It will “have double thrust of next largest rocket,” and it is “Guaranteed to be exciting, one way or another.”

Next, he stated that he will be sending his car and that the “Destination is Mars orbit,” touching on how the rocket “will be in deep space for a billion years or so if it doesn’t blow up on ascent.”

The tables keep turning back and forth since this was released December 1. Various news outlets have been getting conflicting reports whether this car will be launched into space from talking to Musk directly, SpaceX’s communications department, and people working in the company. However, the odds are good, as Musk has a habit of sending ridiculous things into space.

The launch of his first Dragon Capsule on the Falcon 9 in December 2010 had a whole wheel of parmesan cheese on board. To prove they can launch a payload, companies must send a dummy payload; NASA’s payload of choice, for instance, is concrete. However, with past failures in some of SpaceX’s past launches, Musk is on the record addressing the fact that there is a chance that it could blow up. The hope is that the Falcon Heavy will be safely launched into space and will be put into orbit around Mars.

So far, the Falcon Heavy is predicted to launch in January 2018, but the original timeline that Musk gave for this rocket was 2013-14. In the simplest terms the Falcon Heavy is three Falcon 9 rockets strapped to each other. SpaceX plans to be able to recover all three of these, but it is not clear whether they will be doing this on the first flight of the rocket.

The power of the rocket and the increased space allows for larger payloads, like a car, to be shot to the moon or even Mars one day. SpaceX hopes this means that they will be able to soon send people to space according to their timeline of getting people to the moon by 2024.

If this launch is a success, it might be another step in the direction of BFR progress. For those who think that getting to a Falcon Heavy launch isn’t important, it actually might be.

During the International Astronautical Conference, Musk explained that the BFR has been laid out in a way that the rocket will be able to fulfill the jobs of the Falcon Heavy, Falcon 9, and Dragon rockets. The Falcon Heavy may result in being a filler until the BFR is finally completed and can take over all launches.