SpaceX reached a somewhat nonsensical milestone on Tuesday by launching the first car into space. The successful test launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket, which included Elon Musk's personal Tesla Roadster in its payload, demonstrates an option for cheaper satellite delivery, and a way to bring rockets back to Earth after they streak through the cosmos.
But the Roadster wasn't the only theatrical element at play during the Falcon Heavy's ascent: The wacky CEO included a message for aliens that might intercept the space-fairing electric sports car as it floats through the universe. He let his Instagram followers see it late on Tuesday:
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The note "made on Earth by humans" is written on the car's circuit board, so it isn't prominently displayed, but it might suffice as a friendly greeting to an extraterrestial.
In addition to the Roadster, the Falcon Heavy's upper stage is ferrying the car's dummy operator, appropriately named "Starman" by SpaceX. The company streamed the first four hours of the rocket's journey, with Starman behind the wheel as the Roadster drifts away from terra firma. Words of encouragement are there for the space-journeyman, as the message "DON'T PANIC!" is scrawled on the car's dashboard. Starman appears to have nerves of steel, though, so the message might fail to resonate.
SpaceX's video is admittedly very long, but the footage is breathtaking at times.
The Falcon Heavy is a combination of three smaller Falcon 9 rockets. It was originally due to chart a course around the sun before heading to Mars, but the rocket appears to have overshot its trajectory and is now careening towards Jupiter. Musk tweeted the update following the rocket's launch from Kennedy Space Center in Merrit Island, Florida on Tuesday:
Simultaneously a marketing spectacle and feat of modern science, the first Tesla in space largely went off without major hiccups. Two of the Falcon Heavy's boosters successfully landed back at Kennedy, while the third, middle booster failed to land on a drone ship and crashed into the ocean, the company confirmed.
Still, the overall success of the launch saw many cheers and fist pumps at the SpaceX headquarters in Los Angeles, even while the middle booster's failure was confirmed to ground control:
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