As if thewasn't impressive enough, the company posted a live YouTube video stream showing mind-boggling views of the space-suited "Starman" mannequin strapped into the driver's seat of the Tesla Roadster the rocket blasted into space Tuesday, sailing over the blue-and-white planet before heading off to a planned orbit of Mars.
New rockets making their first flights typically carry dummy payloads, or "mass simulators," instead of expensive satellites. Butopted to put his $200,000 on board the Falcon Heavy "just for fun."
"A lot of people (wondered) what's the purpose of sending a car to Mars? There's no point, obviously!" Musk said in an interview Monday. "It's just for fun and to get the public excited."
The live video stream showed the Starman mannequin, with its arm draped casually over the car door, sailing through space in a slow spin with Earth rotating in and out of view behind the roadster. Another view looking straight ahead over Starman's shoulder showed a "Don't Panic" sign where the car's computer display would be.
On Instagram, Musk posted a closeup of wording printed onto the circuit board: "Made on Earth by humans."
SpaceX engineers initially calculated the Tesla would end up in an orbit around the sun with a high point around the distance of Mars' orbit and a low point close to the orbit of Earth. But the second stage apparently fired longer than expected, boosting the Roadster into a solar orbit with a high point in the asteroid belt well beyond Mars.
"We estimate it'll be in that orbit for several hundred million years, maybe in excess of a billion years," Musk said before launch. Tuesday night, he tweeted: "Third burn successful. Exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt."