Entrepreneurial billionaire Elon Musk just used one of his SpaceX rockets to fling one of his Tesla sports cars across the solar system, leading some to conclude mankind is entering a new era of space exploration.
On Tuesday his private aerospace company successfully tested the Falcon Heavy, an ultra-powerful rocket designed to carry humans and heavy payloads into space. The launch attracted 2.3 million live viewers, making it YouTube's second most-watched live stream ever, and footage published after the fact (above) has already been viewed over 15 million times.
One of the most talked about aspects of the Falcon Heavy’s launch was the two reusable strap-on booster rockets which bolstered its liftoff and then impressively guided themselves back down onto the launch pad just a few minutes after separating from the rocket core.
The rocket's payload, meanwhile, consisted of an Elon Musk creation of a different sort: a red Tesla Roadster. It also contained several homages to rock icon David Bowie, including a mannequin “driver” for the car (named Starman) and a radio blasting “Space Oddity” on repeat as the vehicle makes its way toward, and likely past, Mars.
Science reporter Loren Grush of the Verge spoke with Musk ahead of SpaceX’s historic launch and asked what most excites him about shooting this rocket towards the stars.
“Hopefully we inspire the public to get excited about space again,” Musk replied.
Indeed, with the successful mission complete, there is much to be excited about. “It’s going to really show that we can do giant rockets again. Most space organizations, government or commercial, have set their sights too low,” Musk continued. His Falcon Heavy, however, has the power and the commercial viability to, maybe, one day carry people on a trip around the Moon.
Watch Elon Musk’s full interview with the Verge (below) and see the complete Falcon Heavy launch in the SpaceX video (above).