Elon Musk is launching his Tesla Roadster into space to prove a point — but it's also a brilliant marketing move

  • Elon Musk's SpaceX is sending its Falcon Heavy rocket, the most powerful rocket that's launched from the US since the 1970s, into space on Tuesday.
  • The rocket will include Musk's 2008 Tesla Roadster as a test payload to show how the rocket could one day transport people and goods into space.
  • Musk said he's using the Roadster because it's less "boring" than typical test payloads, but it's also a smart marketing ploy.


Elon Musk's SpaceX is sending its Falcon Heavy rocket, the most powerful rocket that's launched from the US since the 1970s, into space on Tuesday. The rocket will take off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

A successful launch would be a milestone for SpaceX, as the 230-foot-tall Falcon Heavy is designed to be larger and cheaper than any rockets currently being launched by the company's competitors thanks in part to its reusable boosters. Being able to send large payloads into space at lower prices than competitors would help Musk's ambitions to start colonies on Mars.

SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launches into space:

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SpaceX Falcon heavy rocket blasts off from Florida
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SpaceX Falcon heavy rocket blasts off from Florida
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - FEBRUARY 05: The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket sits on launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center as it is prepared for tomorrow's lift-off on February 5, 2018 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rocket, which is the most powerful rocket in the world, is scheduled to make its maiden flight between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. tomorrow. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018.
Vapor rises before the scheduled launch of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
The SpaceX Falcon Heavy takes off from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on February 6, 2018, on its demonstration mission. The world's most powerful rocket, SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, blasted off Tuesday on its highly anticipated maiden test flight, carrying CEO Elon Musk's cherry red Tesla roadster to an orbit near Mars. Screams and cheers erupted at Cape Canaveral, Florida as the massive rocket fired its 27 engines and rumbled into the blue sky over the same NASA launchpad that served as a base for the US missions to Moon four decades ago. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket trails smoke after lifting off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
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To demonstrate Falcon Heavy's freight-handling capabilities, Musk is using his 2008 Tesla Roadster as a test payload. On Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration gave SpaceX permission to include the car in the rocket.

"Test flights of new rockets usually contain mass simulators in the form of concrete or steel blocks. That seemed extremely boring," Musk wrote in an Instagram post in December. "Of course, anything boring is terrible, especially companies, so we decided to send something unusual, something that made us feel."

While the inclusion of the Roadster could illustrate how SpaceX could eventually use its rockets to send people and goods into space, it's also a smart marketing ploy from one of the business world's best salesmen, as the Roadster's inclusion in the Falcon Heavy launch has increased the amount of media coverage around the event. 

According to Musk, the Roadster will play David Bowie's "Space Oddity" on a loop as it cycles between Mars and the sun in a hyperbolic orbit. The Roadster will be manned by a dummy driver Musk has called "Starman."

The rocket is scheduled to launch just after 1:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday. You can watch the launch through SpaceX's livestream on its website or YouTube channel.

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SEE ALSO: The most difficult moment for SpaceX's Falcon Heavy mission will happen 6 hours after launch

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