With his strong Twitter presence, Elon Musk has never been one to shy away from announcing his plans to others on social media -- and last week was no different. In a thread of tweets published last Friday night, the groundbreaking technological entrepreneur and founder of SpaceX said that his "midnight cherry Tesla Roadster" would be "playing Space Oddity," and Mars was its destination.
The tweet follows confirmation of the projected ascent of the Falcon Heavy, a rocket double the power of the world's most powerful one so far, which is capable of lifting 120,000 pounds into Earth's orbit. According to Musk, the Falcon Heavy is projected to launch for the first time January 2018. And, apparently, Musk's Tesla is going along for the ride. In fact, he's even termed a slogan for the journey, saying it's a "red car for a red planet" in a follow-up comment to his original post on Twitter.
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.-- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 2, 2017
SpaceX has contracted with the U.S. government for launches using the Falcon Heavy rocket, and its potential success could possibly open the doors for more government contracts in the future. The Falcon Heavy is significantly more advanced than its predecessor, the Falcon 9 -- a rocket which currently serves customers such as NASA and the U.S. military, among others. The model has been in the works for several years, and its launch has been highly anticipated among followers around the world.
As with every new rocket launch, the potential for learning and discovering new things is crucial to advancing technology for future models. Especially in trips where the payload isn't "mission critical," (such as Musk's cherry-red Tesla Roadster) it's possible to learn a great deal about what could be improved upon.
Overall, it appears to have been a pretty solid year for SpaceX: The privately-held company has already flown 17 missions -- double its number count for 2016 -- and has entered into a contract to ferry cargo for NASA later this month before the year's end.
Despite numerous doubts about SpaceX's operation and revolutionary impact, it appears that the company will continue to finish out 2017 strong. The real test, of course, is how the launch next January will go. With Elon Musk involved, it promises to be a very interesting event.