Fun Things To Do With Your $200,000 Car: Blast It Into Outer Space.

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2017/falcontesla.jpg

SpaceX will try to launch Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster on new heavy-lift rocket, Spaceflight Now

"Musk told reporters in March that SpaceX would put "the silliest thing we can imagine" on the first Falcon Heavy flight. The company placed a wheel of cheese on the first flight of its Dragon cargo craft in an ode to the Monty Python comedy group. The Tesla Roadster weighs about 2,760 pounds (1,250 kilograms), measures nearly 13 feet (3.9 meters) long and spans about 5.7 feet (1.7 meters) wide, according to Car and Driver magazine. That's well within the Falcon Heavy's lift capability to go to Mars."

Keith's note: I totally get the playfulness with which SpaceX does many things. Its one of the things I really like about the company. Its often infectious - often disarmingly so - and helps to paint space as something more approachable than just launching expensive shiny things into outer space. Its even more fun to kid around when the company does things that NASA cannot do.

Elon Musk has been totally blunt when he comes to the complexity of launching the first Falcon Heavy and that it may well blow up. Other than instrumentation needed to control and monitor the rocket, it would be a risky proposition for anyone to put anything of value on the rocket as a payload. NASA has often flown inert ballast on rockets during early test flights to allow the rocket to behave under properly loaded conditions. The Shuttle often flew with big slugs of lead to balance payloads.

But I have to wonder if something a little more useful could be done on this first Falcon Heavy flight- like auctioning off the $200,000 Tesla Roadster and using the proceeds to fund lots of cubesats that could be given out free to students with the caveat that they may become space toast. To a lot of people in America $200,000 is the cost of a house, several years of memory unit care for a parent with Alzheimers, or one or two full college educations. This is Elon Musk's decision of course. And while it does have a sort of daring, tongue-in-cheek, out of the box aspect to it, I am also a little disappointed. This is a chance to do something that really resonates with people. Instead a lot of people will see some guy throw his expensive car away in outer space or make a shiny red reef in the atlantic.

Too bad Elon couldn't put a Tesla SUV with fat tires inside a heat shield with a parachute and throw it toward Mars. He could even paint it red. I'm hoping that Elon is just kidding. You are kidding, right?

Keith's update: Now that I have been thinking about this a bit. Elon Musk could have some serious citizen science fun with this. I was thinking back to the ISEE-3 Reboot Project and all of the amateurs - many with home made satellite dishes - who listened for the spacecraft. If the #SpaceTesla does actually make it into space it would be an enticing object for amateurs to track - and analyze. It has known exterior characteristics. How much of its adaptation to space over time could be gleaned from citizen science observations? Not that a sports car with red paint is your ideal space craft. But if it is out there, why not use it as a thing to entice people to look up at the sky and figure out what it is doing? Maybe SpaceX could put a transponder on it ...

Update: Elon Musk told us he was sending a car to space, then said he totally made it up, The Verge

"Update December 2nd, 1:10PM ET: In a separate message, Musk told The Verge that he made up the story. This story and headline has been updated."

Keith's note: I'm glad Loren got this out of SpaceX. SpaceX stopped responding to my media inquires a long time ago.

Elon Musk, ever the merry prankster, plans to launch a Tesla to Mars on a SpaceX rocket

"Since then, his rocket company has pulled off an array of increasingly important -- and improbable -- feats, from winning billions of dollars in U.S. government contracts to landing rocket boosters on ships at sea. But nothing would quite solidify Musk's merry-prankster, ringmaster status than his recently announced plan to use the often-delayed launch of his Falcon Heavy rocket into a cross-promotional marketing campaign for Tesla, one of his other companies."

further Update:

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on December 2, 2017 8:01 PM.

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