“Apparently, there is a car in orbit around Earth,” Elon Musk Tweeted this week after SpaceX’s historic Falcon Heavy rocket launched his original Tesla Roadster into space. The launch was part of the Falcon Heavy’s maiden voyage.
According to SpaceX, the Falcon Heavy is capably of lifting nearly 64 metric tons (141,000 lb) into orbit—a mass greater than a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel. With three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores, the Falcon Heavy can generate 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff—pretty easy when launching the Roadster as payload; the car acted as the rocket’s ballast.
You can watch Musk’s Roadster float through space in the video above. Think about that for a moment. A car is currently orbiting Earth, just floating out there on a cosmic road trip with no particular destination. And it will continue to float through space for the next million years.
As you can see on the car’s dashboard, there’s a helpful message from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which reads, “Don’t Panic.”
The launch of Falcon Heavy is significant because it paves the way for a possible mission to Mars. While the rocket was originally meant to shuttle humans, that task has now been assigned to SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket, which is being designed for a possible mission to the Martian planet.
For good measure, Musk printed a cheeky message on the circuit board of the Roadster.[gallery]