Elon Musk has achieved many things that humans weren’t able to do in the past. In the recent launch of new Falcon Heavy rocket, it made history not just for re-landing multiple rocket cores back to Earth but it also brought along something ‘just for fun’: Musk’s Tesla Roadster with a dummy driver.
Appropriately named as the Starman, the dummy robot ‘driver’ sits in the driver’s seat of the red Roadster; although it wouldn’t really be doing any driving at all. But this made history, anyway, as the first car in space – even if the vehicle will not be doing anything on any surface, unless it survives a crash in some yet unknown planetary object.
Inside the Roadster were useful ‘notes’ for aliens, should they find the Roadster and, by chance, know how to read and understand English. The circuit board held text that read, “Made on Earth by humans.” The vehicle also had a special plaque engraved with the names of SpaceX’s 6,000 employees.
While the Roadster wouldn’t really be doing anything much in space, it does come with cameras that capture the views of where the car is going. So, we’ll have cool photos of space taken from a different perspective, from that of Starman. Isn’t that exciting?
According to Time, the vehicle also carries a ‘nearly indestructible disk carrying a digital copy of Isaac Asimov’s science fiction book series, Foundation’.
The Falcon’s success now gives the US something that wasn’t achieved before: ‘delivery service’ for heavy items.
After all, it can launch a car into space, surely it could take something else as well. Because the rocket cores can be retrieved and fuel use was significantly cut down, Falcon Heavy cuts the costs of space flight by several millions. For instance, Nasa’s planned SLS rocket costs $1 billion per flight but the Falcon Heavy’s successful launch only cost $90 million.
Of course, there were critics who questioned why Musk sent a ‘useless’ Roadster into space instead of something more useful, such as a scientific instrument perhaps. But it’s his rocket, really; he can send whatever he wants. Plus, a car in space does sound a whole lot cooler, yes?