The Tesla that Got Launched Into Space

What Excited Us About the Falcon Heavy Launch

Kasia Krzyzanska

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As you may have heard, last Tuesday, February 6, a Tesla Roadster was shot into space on a rocket. This is by far one of the coolest things that could possibly happen to a car, and of course, Elon Musk is behind all this.

This Tesla was launched during the test of the new Falcon Heavy rocket, currently the most powerful rocket in the world. The test itself was mostly successful; only a center engine core was lost upon an attempted landing. This, on its own, is very impressive. However, that is not really what made ordinary so excited about this flight. What has really captured our imaginations is that now there is a luxury car heading past Mars to the asteroid belt and beyond.

And this Tesla really went out in style: there is a mannequin named “Starman” sitting in it, listening to David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” blast through the radio. On the dashboard reads “DON’T PANIC”, a reference to the famous science fiction book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (a favorite of both Musk and yours truly- Elon, my respect for you has grown!). Even imprinted on the car’s circuitry is the message “Made on Earth by humans”, just in case.

As the billionaire CEO of both Tesla and SpaceX, which launched the rocket, Elon Musk has mostly been an innovative and/or crazy pioneer in both space and technology on Earth. Through his various companies (and does he have many), he’s working, for example, on this futuristic train-like system called a hyperloop. He plans to get people on Mars by 2024. Furthermore, he’s getting people excited about space again. After the space race ended, after the year 2000 came and went and we didn’t colonize the moon yet, after people seem to have kind of forgotten that it is still possible to one day live in space, people are finally talking about what is possible again.

Personally, I think maybe Musk is a little optimistic about some of this, but that’s not really the point. The point is that if we keep reminding ourselves that none of the cool future stuff will ever happen in our lifetimes, it never will.

The Tesla right now is doing just fine. Sure, it looks like it’s going to overshoot its original trajectory to Mars, but the car itself will likely be fine. It will be going into orbit around the Sun, and will likely do so for a very long time. As it happens, space is mostly, well, open space. There is no oxygen or water to rust the car, and its chances of hitting an asteroid are less likely than a Roadster getting into an accident on Earth. All that will really happen to it is that its color will fade due to the Sun’s UV rays. Other than that, it will continue to float around the Sun for as long as it can, or perhaps, if we so choose to, until the day we’ll rescue it. For now, though, it will continue to serve as a reminder that space is right there! We’ve come so far, we’ve landed rovers on Mars and men on the moon, we’ve even sent a luxury electric car into orbit just ’cause. If that isn’t enough to excite people about space, then I don’t know what is.

(There was originally a live video stream from the car- the live stream is now over, but you can view the whole video here)

"WHERE WE'RE GOING, WE DON'T NEED ROADS"

🎵”Far above the world, the planet Earth is blue, and there’s nothing I can do”🎵

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