SpaceX's Tesla's out-of-this-world view

Last Updated Feb 6, 2018 10:50 PM EST

As if the launch of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy wasn'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. But SpaceX founder Elon Musk opted to put his $200,000 cherry red Tesla Roadster 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."


Just passing through...


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."

Printed on the circuit board of a car in deep space

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on

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."

Live Views of Starman by SpaceX on YouTube
  • William Harwood

    Bill Harwood has been covering the U.S. space program full-time since 1984, first as Cape Canaveral bureau chief for United Press International and now as a consultant for CBS News. He covered 129 space shuttle missions, every interplanetary flight since Voyager 2's flyby of Neptune and scores of commercial and military launches. Based at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Harwood is a devoted amateur astronomer and co-author of "Comm Check: The Final Flight of Shuttle Columbia."