Elon Musk shared images on his Instagram account today of the payload being loaded up on the first Falcon Heavy rocket that will ever launch – and it’s a red Tesla Roadster. The SpaceX CEO previously said that he’d be launching exactly that on the spaceship, but then suggested he was joking – before the whole thing was confirmed again by SpaceX, and now made really official via this post.
A Red Car for the Red Planet Test flights of new rockets usually contain mass simulators in the form of concrete or steel blocks. That seemed extremely boring. Of course, anything boring is terrible, especially companies, so we decided to send something unusual, something that made us feel. The payload will be an original Tesla Roadster, playing Space Oddity, on a billion year elliptic Mars orbit.
Musk notes that rocket payloads for first test flights are generally just things that provide weight to simulate real cargo, like blocks of concrete or steel. He wanted to do something more interesting, so the Falcon Heavy set to launch early next year, which is currently at Cape Canaveral to undergo its final pre-launch tests, is being loaded up with a Tesla Roadster (original flavor, not the just-revealed updated edition).
The Roadster will also be playing David Bowie’s Space Oddity, and is aiming to enter a “billion year elliptic Mars orbit,” should the launch go perfectly to plan. There’s at least a non-zero chance things won’t go smoothly, however – Musk himself has suggested that the first Falcon Heavy could end with a rocket explosion sometime shortly after takeoff.
Either way, we now know that a Tesla vehicle will indeed be aboard the Falcon Heavy when it takes it inaugural flight – propelled by 27 Merlin engines, or essentially three Falcon 9 rockets strapped together.
SpaceX is also still looking to launch one more rocket in 2017, for the Iridium-4 mission planned for liftoff at 5:27 PM PST, which you can watch live here.