SpaceX founder Elon Musk is sending out the first Falcon Heavy rocket from the factory to the vast reaches of space, and it will be carrying an item with sentimental value to him. His own first generation Tesla Roadster will end up in orbit around Mars if everything goes according to plan.
"Payload will be my midnight cherry Tesla Roadster playing Space Oddity," Musk wrote out to social media to announce his daring plan on Friday, Dec. 1.
"Destination is Mars orbit. Will be in deep space for a billion years or so if it doesn't blow up on ascent," he explained in his Twitter post. It will be the cargo of the first Falcon Heavy launch that will take off sometime in January, according to Ars Technica.
It's the next step in what has become a tradition in SpaceX. Seven years ago, in 2010, the company sent off the demonstration flight of the Dragon rocket with a huge wheel of French Gruyére cheese, a stunt that Musk revealed to the public under a condition.
"There's a humorous secret payload that I can't tell you about," Musk earlier hinted to the media. "If the mission's successful, I'll tell you about it. Otherwise, I won't," he added, as quoted by Collect Space.
The mission was a success, and a new milestone in the history of cheese has been set.
This new payload, however, is a bigger challenge in all aspects, not only in tonnage, but also in distance. It's also a good bit of cross-promotion to the Tesla, which could be why Musk is announcing the Falcon Heavy payload this early.
Sending a multi-ton package to another planet could trigger a new revival in space exploration, as Phil Larson, former SpaceX officer, noted.
"The launch of the biggest rocket since the US Moon booster is a game changer for our country's space exploration future and for national security," he said.