Not only is Elon Musk sending his favourite Tesla roadster car into space this evening in Florida, but he has placed a dummy astronaut, complete with space suit, in the car’s driving seat. Previously, Musk has said the car’s audio system will be playing David Bowie’s hit Starman as the Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from its Florida launch pad.
Florida’s Space Coast either side of Cape Canaveral is expecting massive crowds to watch the launch the most powerful rocket currently in use, and Musk is not entirely hopeful of mission success. He told journalists on February 5th that the mission had only a 50/50 chance of success.
If all goes well after the challenging launch sequence, Musk’s plan will see the rocket then cruise for six hours and with a third firing of its upper stage engine, the Tesla car payload will be on its way to a Martian orbit around the sun.
Meanwhile, Musk remains hopeful that the first stage, plus its two booster rockets, will be recovered for possible re-use later.
Launch is scheduled for 13.30pm Florida time (18.30 GMT).