A space superhighway remains only an idea, but Elon Musk will attempt to blast a flashy red convertible skyward regardless. Musk's Tesla Roadster will be aboard SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket on its debut launch from Florida's Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday. The car is meant to showcase the 70-ton payload capacity of SpaceX's "most powerful operational rocket"—made up of three boosters of the smaller Falcon 9 rocket, a second stage rocket and the payload—whose estimated 2,500 tons of thrust is "equivalent to 18 Boeing 747 aircraft at full throttle," per CNBC. If the launch is successful, Falcon Heavy will make history as the most powerful rocket launched into space since NASA's Saturn V, which carried the Apollo astronauts to the moon, per CNET and Reuters.
It would also be the first to carry a car into space, obviously. According to Tech Crunch, a dummy wearing a SpaceX astronaut suit will pilot Musk's Tesla Roadster as David Bowie's "Starman" blasts from its speakers during the launch, approved by the FAA and scheduled for 1:30pm EST. The car, which is to orbit the sun and get close to Mars, "will be in deep space for a billion years or so if it doesn't blow up on ascent," Musk said in a December tweet. That's just one possible complication. Back on Earth, SpaceX will also have the opportunity to showcase its smooth rocket booster landings as it attempts three landings almost simultaneously, per CNET. Two boosters are expected to land at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station while a third is to arrive on a SpaceX drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.