SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk shared photos Friday of an original Tesla Roadster loaded inside the payload fairing that caps SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, providing proof that, yes, the electric vehicle will be headed into the next, and final frontier.
Earlier this month, Musk said the Falcon Heavy rocket, which has been under development for years, will launch in January from Cape Canaveral, Florida. At the time, Musk tweeted, “Payload will be my midnight cherry Tesla Roadster playing ‘Space Oddity.’ Destination is Mars orbit. Will be in deep space for a billion years or so if it doesn’t blow up on ascent.”
Photos shared on Instagram show the Tesla Roadster being prepped for the Falcon Heavy rocket. Musk posted these gleaming images after a rogue photo of the Roadster showed up on Reddit.
In the post entitled ‘A Red Car for the Red Planet,” Musk writes:
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.”
The images sparked new excitement for the upcoming launch, which is expected in January, including from Steve Jurvetson, the venture capitalist who was an early investor and former board member of SpaceX and Tesla.
The Falcon Heavy, one of the most powerful rockets ever made, will be capable of lifting into orbit more than 119,000—the mass equivalent to a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel, according to SpaceX. Falcon Heavy is designed to lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost, the company says.
Here are three more photos: