The first sportscar into space is due to blast off today (6 February at 6.30pm GMT). The 2008 cherry-red electric roadster will sit atop the world’s most powerful rocket and be shot up from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, destination Mars. All a joke? No. The car – and the rocket – belongs to one Elon Musk…
LIVE: Watch Elon Musk launch his Tesla Roadster toward Mars
The Tesla boss decided to send his own personal Tesla Roadster – the electric brand’s first model a decade ago – into space to demonstrate his new SpaceX rocket’s carrying capacity. It’s reported there will be a dummy strapped in behind the steering wheel and the radio will be playing David Bowie’s Starman.
“Demonstration missions like this one typically carry steel or concrete blocks but SpaceX decided it would be more worthwhile to launch something fun and without irreplaceable sentimental value: a red Roadster for the red planet,” said SpaceX.
The three-core rocket lives up to its name of the Falcon Heavy with a set of impressive stats, including a total of more than five million pounds of thrust. Twice as powerful as any other rocket in the world today, it can lift into orbit the equivalent of a fully loaded 737 jet or around 64 tonnes. The Tesla Roadster in the rocket’s nose cone won't be much of a weight test at just 1250kg. You can see how it's all meant to happen in the video below:
SpaceX’s secret is to have reusable rockets, and if all goes to plan all three “cores” will, after setting the Tesla Roadster free in the general direction of Mars, turn back to Earth and have a soft landing. The two side cores are meant to touch down at Cape Canaveral while the big Falcon centre core will be aiming for a “drone ship” in the Atlantic ocean.
But as SpaceX points out: “It’s important to remember that this mission is a test flight. Even if we do not complete all of the experimental milestones we will still be gathering critical data throughout the mission.”
One thing for sure; while that little red sportscar will for a time be the world’s fastest car, Elon Musk is unlikely to be seeing it again…
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