I watched the launch and for reasons I cannot explain it brought me to tears. I feel like I witnessed an event that heralds the future of our planet and maybe the universe. Hopefully a future for the better.
At first, I was quite taken aback by the fact they were launching a car into space. I mean, what will the aliens think? Seriously, what an accomplishment. I hope it's something they'll be able to photograph and send back to Earth for a while.
It was an amazing step forward in rocket tech and exploration capabilities, the dropping one of his cars in space to me was just vile and pompus look at me statement. Putting his ad in a place that does not belong to anyone. So first to the moon gets to rape the planet of its resources too? As amazing as it was I was dissapointed in the direction and statement it makes. Just because we can doesn't mean we should, seen enough of that with Trump already. /grumpy
The rocket needed a payload for the purposes of the test. That payload could have been a block of concrete, but what's exciting or fun about launching a block of concrete into space? Elon's old Roadster is something that's personally meaningful to him. Sending it into space is almost like sending a piece of himself into space, which is something he desperately wants to do someday.
The Roadster also carried a dummy wearing a SpaceX spacesuit prototype. I haven't seen any reporting on this so I don't know if it's the case, but I'd be surprised if they weren't using this as an opportunity to gather some data on the suit. How often do you get a chance to actually test a prototype spacesuit in deep space?
I'm sure Elon wasn't ignorant of the fact that a Tesla in space is great PR for Tesla, but I don't think that was his primary goal. He's just not the type of person to launch a concrete block into space when he could do something more fun instead.
Opinions and all that of course. The payload could have been something far more useful to science. But hey I need to know how those tires survive. Was it a mix tape or streaming service? Time capsule in the luagage space? Wonder what if any laws are applied to this, what else is weighing it down they surely didn't blast those batteries up there. maybe just too skypetical.
It's important to remember that this launch had a very low chance of success. It was more likely that the payload would explode on the launch pad than that it would make it into space. So any time and money invested in creating a research payload would have had to be time and money someone was willing to throw away.
SpaceX's expertise is in creating launch and payload delivery systems, not in creating science packages or satellites. So someone else — likely NASA or the USAF — would have needed to step in to create the research payload at their own expense.
But this also means there would have needed to be a useful research goal achievable by fully automated equipment in deep space, and achievable for an amount of money that nobody would miss terribly if it burned up on the pad. Even if the rocket made it into space without exploding, the odds were still heavily against everything going right with the third stage boost needed to achieve a deep space trajectory, making a successful science payload delivery even less likely if it depended on being in a particular place at a particular time.
I think it's easy in hindsight to say they should have used this opportunity to launch a more useful payload, because we know that everything worked. But the fact that everything worked the first time is absolutely amazing and unprecedented in the field of rocketry. Even Elon himself said he'd be happy if the rocket just made it off the pad before exploding, and Elon is optimistic to a fault.
So instead of launching a useful payload that was almost certain to be destroyed or launched on a failed trajectory, SpaceX chose to launch a disposable payload that nobody would cry too much about if it burned up on the pad or went tumbling into the sun. Seems reasonable to me. 🙂
"would have had to be time and money someone was willing to throw away." I think that is a good point. If I was throwing money away perhaps I would pick a more just cause. Now back to how those tires! crazy?! how they do that!
They normally just take up large chunks of concrete and/or steel when testing a new rocket. Basically they need a heavy ballast that doesn't cost much. Obviously that doesn't cost much but has the necessary weight they needed to accurately test the rocket. So while it seems like a ridiculous stunt it's actually a fairly cheap ballast that also allows him to get lots of advertising. If you think about it it's not really a bad idea and thing to do. My opinion of course but when you realize they need some kind of cheap weight - why not send a car instead of a big hunk of concrete??
Probably not fully functional and that's very cheap advertising if in fact it is functional. Besides, one day they'll have 3D printers in space and could salvage the car for the manufacture of other products :) Yeah I'm sure there are lots of people who would like to have that money but it's money well spent for Space X and Tesla. Essentially a drop in the bucket.