5 quirky facts about the sports car Elon Musk just blasted into space

07 February 2018 - 15:39 By Toni Jaye Singer and Kate Henry
Starman in his cherry-red Tesla roadster in orbit over Australia.
Starman in his cherry-red Tesla roadster in orbit over Australia.
Image: Elon Musk/Twitter

SpaceX successfully launched the Falcon Heavy, the world's most powerful operational rocket, on Tuesday. That's exciting isn't it? Clearly not exciting enough for founder Elon Musk who, to add to the spectacle, decided to blast a multi-million rand Tesla Roadster into space too.

Here are five fast facts about this automotive Space Oddity, which is now currently floating amidst the stars:

1. ALL WE KNOW IS HE'S NOT CALLED THE STIG

He may look like The Stig from Top Gear, but the spacesuit-clad dummy 'piloting' Musk's cherry-red Roadster is actually named Starman.

Sound familiar? It should. It's from a 1972 hit of the same name by David Bowie, which goes "There's a starman waiting in the sky/He'd like to come and meet us/But he thinks he'd blow our minds".

WATCH | Tesla Roadster floats through space

Elon Musk's cherry red Tesla Roadster automobile floated through space after it was carried there by SpaceX's Falcon Heavy.

2. STARMAN'S GONNA HAVE A SONG STUCK IN HIS HEAD

Starman can not only credit David Bowie for his name, but for his playlist too. Bowie's song Life On Mars is apparently blasting out of the car's speakers on an endless loop.

Another of Bowie's songs, Space Oddity, was the soundtrack for a famous viral video that was shot in space. Astronaut Chris Hadfield was filmed performing a version of the track aboard the International Space Station during his final mission in 2013; the resulting YouTube video has since been watched over 38 million times.

WATCH | Chris Hadfield perform David Bowie's Space Oddity in space

3. KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

Right in the middle of the car, on the center screen, you might notice the words 'Don't Panic' displayed. No, Musk doesn't believe Starman needs a reminder to stay calm. Instead it’s a clever reference to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the first in a series of books written by Douglas Adams.

The book follows the journey of Arthur Dent who is suddenly forced to become a space traveller after the Earth is demolished. 

One of the main themes of the series is the Guide itself, which is indispensable to any sane cosmic adventurer. As Adams writes, "It is said that despite its many glaring (and occasionally fatal) inaccuracies, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy itself has outsold the Encyclopedia Galactica because it is slightly cheaper, and because it has the words 'DON'T PANIC' in large, friendly letters on the cover".

Printed on the circuit board of a car in deep space

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on

4. THERE'S A SECRET MESSAGE HIDDEN ON BOARD

Presumably in case it's found - and dismantled - by alien lifeforms, the circuit board of the Tesla is stamped with a helpful message which reads: "Made on Earth by humans". 

The car also carries a plaque inscribed with the names of more than 6,000 SpaceX employees.

5. THE CAR COSTS A BUNDLE

The specifications of the Tesla Roadster are readily available online. Some of the key ones are:

  • It can go from 0-100km/h in 1.9 seconds — on earth;
  • It's top speed on land is 400km/h (we're not sure about in space); and
  • The base price is a whopping $200,000 (around R2.8-million).

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