Elon Musk Launches Car Into Space

4년 전

It is being reported by BBC News that Elon Musk has just launched his car into space.


Seriously. The much anticipated first launch of the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle has now happened. It was successful. One of the three lower stages was destroyed, but the other two landed. More importantly, the rocket did launch successfully. The Falcon Heavy is capable of carrying 64 tonnes into orbit, more than double the 29 tonne capacity of the Delta IV Heavy, which until today was the highest capacity launch vehicle in operation. More importantly, the Falcon Heavy costs much less. Reportedly one third the price to launch more then double the payload.

A lot more is going to be possible in space now. As if to make the point that we can launch just about anything into space now, Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, the company behind the Falcon Heavy, chose a very unusual payload for this test launch. He launched his bright red Tesla Roadster. Yes, he launched his car into space today. It didn't weigh 64 tonnes so they had plenty of extra power to not just put it in orbit around the Earth, but to send it much, much farther.

BBC is reporting that the car was launched beyond Earth orbit into an elliptical orbit around the sun that will take it as far as the orbit of Mars. A tweet by Elon Musk indicated that it's on track to go beyond the orbit of Mars into the asteroid belt. To make it even stranger, a mannequin dressed one of those spiffy-looking new SpaceX space suits was strapped into the driver's seat of the car with the radio set to play David Bowie music on a continuous loop.

I probably should comment more on what this means for the future of mankind that we have this kind of launch capacity now and at so much less cost. But some of us have been aware of that for years and were just waiting for this thing to finally be operational. So I've already thought through the implications of the rocket. Today I'm thinking of the implications of the car in space.

First, the orbit they are describing sounds like a round trip of more than 100 million kilometers or so per orbit. Tens of millions at least. If they did it right, Elon Musk's car could be in that orbit for many years if undisturbed. Perhaps centuries. Maybe millennia. A car with what looks like a person in a space suit in the driver's seat.

Also, Tesla Motors is going to have a hell of a story to tell about how one of their cars is getting just incredible mileage. Hundreds of millions of kilometers without even recharging the battery. Not only that, someday, centuries from now, spacecraft will probably be regularly flying in the area of the car's orbit. Hopefully, they will keep track of the fact that it's out there. If not, there could be the most bizarre car accident in history. Out near the orbit of Mars, a car collides with a spaceship.

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