The most powerful rocket in the world, the SpaceX Falcon Heavy, launched without a hitch from Cape Canaveral’s Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday. It’s a magnificent feat by any standard, but everyone is talking about two things: (1) CEO Elon Musk inserting a Tesla Roadster as the payload; and (2) The car apparently playing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” upon launch. No one really knows why Musk settled upon this payload — he claims that he decided to do “the silliest thing we can imagine” — other than because it seems like an eccentric-billionaire thing to do.
Later on Tuesday, the Falcon Heavy will make its way through Earth’s Van Allen radiation belt. Then it will eventually (if everything goes as planned) begin an elliptical orbit around the Sun, which will bring it into orbit around Mars. Yet the Falcon Heavy is never expected to touch Mars’ surface and could float indefinitely in deep space. Again, that’s the end goal, and it’s entirely possible that the rocket fuel might freeze, which would prevent escape from Earth’s orbit, in which case the rocket (and that shiny Tesla) could burn to a crisp.
Naturally, Musk kind of lost his mind during and after the launch, so he’s tweeting and Instagramming like a madman and mostly focusing on the Tesla. Here’s a camera view from inside the payload fairing.
Then came video footage from within the car as it gazed upon Earth.
View from SpaceX Launch Control. Apparently, there is a car in orbit around Earth. pic.twitter.com/QljN2VnL1O
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 6, 2018
Before long, the rocket moved over Australia.
In addition to all of the snazzy details (the car), Musk can also be proud of a stellar touchdown of two of the Falcon Heavy’s rocket cores making their way safely back down to Cape Canaveral. These two outer boosters touched down a mere 1,000 feet from each other. Not too shabby.