A bright-red electric Tesla roadster convertible was launched, as a test payload, onboard SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket on Feb. 6, 2018 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
With over 5 million pounds of thrust, the Falcon Heavy is currently the most powerful rocket since NASA’s Saturn V, which put the Apollo-era astronauts on the moon. Four minutes into the rockets launch, the nosecone retracted, revealing the car with its top down and a mannequin dressed in a full astronaut suit in the driver’s seat. Even more interesting, SpaceX rigged the car’s radio to play David Bowie’s song “Space Oddity” on repeat as it travels for millions of years through space.
This PR stunt for all ages was brought to you by none other than Elon Musk, the South African-born Canadian American billionaire entrepreneur who founded PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX, and the Falcon Heavy rocket. During a public statement on the date of the launch, Musk said, “It's kind of silly and fun…but silly and fun things are important.”
In recent years, Musk has nearly cornered the market on electric vehicles and private space flight. The Falcon Heavy is but the first step in what he hopes will be manned colonies on Mars. Though, many are skeptical of SpaceX’s long-term success as the company has missed numerous deadlines and chalked up heavy financial losses; Musk hopes the Falcon Heavy’s success will put some fears at ease. While the launch was a great milestone for the private space flight company, SpaceX and Musk are focused on an actual mission to Mars. “Our aspirational goal is to launch our first cargo mission to Mars in 2022, with a second manned mission in 2024,” said Musk, “It's about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.”