Space Oddity

World's most powerful rocket blasts towards Mars - with Elon Musk's roadster onboard

The SpaceX CEO didn’t have to include his red Tesla roadster, which reportedly was playing Space Oddity during blast off.

Image uploaded from iOS (2) PA Images PA Images

THE WORLD’S MOST powerful rocket the Falcon Heavy blasted off this evening on its highly anticipated maiden test flight to an orbit near Mars - carrying Elon Musk’s cherry red roadster.

The test mission was launched ahead of a mission planned for next year, where astronauts will travel from Florida to the International Space Station – but why the red roadster?

The SpaceX CEO shared pictures of the sports car to his Instagram page, with a dummy passenger manning the wheel.

Test flights such as these usually carry steel or concrete for cargo or mundane experiments – nothing valuable in case the rocket blows up.

SpaceX Starman AP AP

But never to do things by halves, or miss out on a media opportunity, Elon Musk has placed a red Tesla Roadster aboard the Falcon Heavy for this demo.

Starman, as Musk calls the passenger, is wearing a white-and-black-trimmed spacesuit and helmet – the same outfit real astronauts will wear on next year’s mission.

As a David Bowie fan, Musk has promised via Twitter to have the car soundtrack playing Space Oddity. Starman, of course, is the title of a Bowie song from 1972. / YouTube

The blast off

SpaceX New Rocket Launch Falcon 9 SpaceX heavy rocket lifts off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. John Raoux John Raoux

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.

“Wow, did you guys see that? That was awesome,” said SpaceX commentator Lauren Lyons as applause thundered through mission control.

HEAVY ROCKET COMPARISON This chart compares heavy-class rockets by height and payload to low-Earth orbit. AP AP

About two minutes into the flight, the two side boosters peeled away and made their way back toward Earth for an upright landing.

Both rockets landed side by side in unison on launchpads, live video images showed.

“And the Falcons have landed,” Lyons said.

The third centre booster was to attempt a landing on an ocean platform.

If this test flight succeeds, Musk’s Starman should cruise around the sun for a billion years.

- with reporting from the Associated Press

Read: London to New York in 29 minutes? Elon Musk unveils ambitious new plans

Read: Here’s everything we know about the new Teslas (and what the experts are saying)

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