To call the successful test launch of the SpaceX rocket Tuesday inspirational doesn’t begin to do it justice. The event was memorable both for its physics as well as its theatrics. The scene of the Falcon Heavy’s two reusable side boosters returning to Earth in tandem was truly science fiction come to life. But that wasn’t even the best part. That came when the second stage of the rocket discarded the white nose cone at its tip, revealing the rocket’s payload — a cherry red Tesla sports car owned by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. In the driver’s seat was a mannequin, named Starman, clad in a spacesuit. And as the screen showed the car soaring above the Earth, the webcast blasted David Bowie’s “Life on Mars?” It was, as Bowie noted in his classic 1971 song, a “best-selling show.”
Is there life on Mars? SpaceX and Musk have a plan to make it so by putting astronauts there some day. No doubt, they will arrive in style. But it will be hard to top the Tesla in orbit.