CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — After weeks of anticipation, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has released his music video animation of his company's first Falcon Heavy rocket launching a car to Mars. And, as you'd expect, it's awesome. (Check it out above.)
The 3-minute-and-27-second video starts with a view of Earth, zooming in on Florida and Cape Canaveral to show the Falcon Heavy atop Launch Pad 39A here at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. A cutaway shows how the car, Musk's own Tesla Roadster (in midnight cherry red), is canted up at a jaunty angle inside the protective nose cone atop the Falcon Heavy.
Then, the launch: Liftoff is set for tomorrow (Feb. 6) at 1:30 p.m. EST (1830 GMT). Musk's video shows that moment, with Falcon Heavy's three first-stage boosters igniting their 27 Merlin rocket engines as they power up the booster toward space.
The two side boosters separate and fall away, returning to Earth to land on two SpaceX landing pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The center core separates later and lands on SpaceX's drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You."
The upper stage continues on, with the nose cone's protective fairing separating to reveal the Roadster and its inanimate driver, which Musk calls "Starman." Not surprisingly, the spacesuit-clad Starman is in the driver's seat, with its left arm resting on the driver's-side door and right hand presumably on the wheel.
After the upper stage separates from the payload, the car continues ever on in an orbit that, according to Musk, will send it swinging near Mars. It's an awesome animation for sure, and promises one heck of a ride for SpaceX's Starman.
Of course, the animation only holds if everything goes exactly right for SpaceX's Falcon Heavy test flight. Musk himself has said there's a fair chance the launch could fail, as this is the debut of an entirely new rocket.
- Tariq Malik, Space.com Managing Editor
Tariq joined Purch's Space.com team in 2001 as a staff writer, and later editor, covering human spaceflight, exploration and space science. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Google+, Twitter and on Facebook.
- Tariq Malik, Space.com Managing Editor on