Shortly after the Falcon Heavy achieved its historic launch (and landings) on Tuesday, February 6, SpaceX fired up a live-stream of its deployed cargo — a cherry-red Tesla Roadster with Starman in the driving seat.
The real-time video of “a car in space” has now finished, but the four-hour video remains online and has already been dipped into more than six million times by viewers around the world.
Three cameras fixed to the car show a casual-looking Starman with one hand on the wheel and his left arm leaning on the door. Drifting through space.
While some questioned the authenticity of the stream, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk reassured doubters, saying in a press conference later on Tuesday, “We’d have way better CGI if it was fake.”
During the 30-minute press gathering, a good number of the questions came from reporters keen to know more about the Roadster and its spacesuit-clad driver.
“It just has the same seats like a normal car has, it’s literally a normal car, in space … I kinda like the absurdity of that,” Musk said.
The CEO pointed out that his old car is carrying a miniature payload all of its own. “If you look carefully at the dashboard, there’s a tiny Roadster with a tiny spaceman.” And, in another nod to Bowie, the late artist’s Space Oddity track is blasting out of the stereo.
Musk: “Silly and fun things are important.”
He acknowledged that the cargo taken into space by the Falcon Heavy on its maiden mission was “kinda silly and fun,” but added that “silly and fun things are important.”
Elaborating, Musk said, “Normally, for a new rocket, it launches like a block of concrete, and that’s so boring. The imagery of [the car and Starman] is something that’s going to get people excited around the world … and it’s still tripping me out.”
“Maybe it’ll be discovered by some future alien race thinking, ‘What the heck were these guys doing, did they worship this car? Why do have a little car in the car?’ That’ll really confuse them.”
On the subject of Starman’s spacesuit, the SpaceX boss said it was “the real deal,” designed for future crew on manned missions aboard SpaceX rockets.
“That is the actual production design, the real one looks just like that … that’s the real deal … it took us three years to design that spacesuit, it was real hard. It’s easy to make a spacesuit that looks good but doesn’t work, or that works but doesn’t look good … it’s really difficult to make a spacesuit that looks good and works.” Musk thinks his team nailed it.
At around 10.30 p.m. ET, Musk confirmed that the upper stage of Falcon Heavy had successfully fired, sending the Roadster and Starman on its mammoth space adventure toward Mars and beyond. If it doesn’t crash into something along the way, that is.
When asked what the Falcon Heavy launch had taught him, Musk said simply, “That crazy things come true.”