SpaceX set to fire Elon Musk’s Roadster into orbit on back of world’s ‘most powerful’ rocket

Key Points
  • SpaceX will launch its biggest rocket, called the Falcon Heavy, Tuesday.
  • The Tesla Roadster of SpaceX boss Elon Musk will be cargo.
  • Musk's ultimate aim is to fly a reusable rocket to Mars.
Elon Musk to launch a SpaceX rocket with a Tesla on board
Elon Musk to launch a SpaceX rocket with a Tesla on board

A cherry red Tesla Roadster owned by Elon Musk is set to be fired into space on SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket.

The private space company, headed by Tesla CEO Musk, hopes to launch what it calls "the most powerful operational rocket" from Florida's Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday.

On the social media site Instagram, Musk posted an image of his car fixed to a part of the rocket with a dummy figure at the wheel.

It has been reported that the car will be playing the song "Starman" by David Bowie when it's released into zero gravity. The Tesla Roadster is to be sent on an elliptical orbit around the Sun and will at one stage pass closely by Mars.

Should the launch succeed, Falcon Heavy will be the biggest and most powerful rocket to be launched into space since Nasa's giant Saturn V in 1973. SpaceX has described it on its own website as the most powerful rocket around today.

SpaceX Falcon Heavy sat on a launch pad.

Built from three boosters of SpaceX's smaller Falcon 9, and with an estimated 2,500 tons of thrust, the rocket is equivalent to 18 Boeing 747 aircraft at full throttle.

According to the SpaceX website, the 70-meter-long Falcon Heavy could carry up to 37,000 pounds of cargo and crew to Mars.

The program has suffered delays of up to five years and, in July 2017, Musk admitted his team had been "pretty naive" and that development had been "way harder" than he had first thought.

Tweet 1

On Twitter, Musk said the launch remained on target for 1:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday.