On Friday (Dec. 22), Musk, the CEO and chief technology officer of SpaceX, posted photos to his Instagram account revealing the “midnight cherry” electric sports car being prepared for launch on the company’s first Falcon Heavy rocket.
"Test flights of new rockets usually contain mass simulators in the form of concrete or steel blocks. That seemed extremely boring," Musk wrote on the photo sharing website. "Of course, anything boring is terrible, especially companies, so we decided to send something unusual, something that made us feel." [SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Rocket in Images]
"The payload will be an original Tesla Roadster, playing 'Space Oddity,' on a billion year elliptic Mars orbit," Musk wrote in the post, which he titled: "A Red Car for the Red Planet."
The images show the red convertible atop a payload adapter, positioned between the two towering halves of the fairing that will be mounted atop the Falcon Heavy rocket, shielding the Roadster during its ascent into Earth orbit. If successful, the launch will put the car on a path to intercept the orbit of Mars.
The Falcon Heavy combines three SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets, such that it rides atop 27 Merlin engines firing in unison. When it enters service, it will be the most powerful rocket in operation, capable of lifting the equivalent of a Boeing 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel.
The Falcon Heavy’s two side-mounted boosters and central core are designed to be reusable, flying back to Earth to land on land- and sea-based platforms.
The maiden launch of the Falcon Heavy, with the Tesla Roadster, is targeted for January from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.