A number of comments and some answers at the question Can I drive Elon Musk's Tesla in 100 Years? suggets the Tesla Roadster "would not survive launch... it would be a jumble of loosely assembled broken parts."

But if we look at pictures of the lunar rover it appears much more fragile than the Tesla. How or Why did the Lunar Rover survive launch while the Tesla would not?

Lunar Rover

Above: The U.S. Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle from Apollo 15 on the moon in 1971. Photograph source: Wikipedia on Lunar Roving Vehicle

Below: Tesla Roadster in preparation for launch to deep space

Tesla Roadster to Space

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    $\begingroup$ @JCRM as a Stack Exchange question this is not ridiculous. The title is from a previous answer, and posting like this provides a better format to explore why that answer is wrong and why vehicles with lots of moving parts launched into space do in fact have a reasonable likelihood of surviving launch. There's nothing inherently wrong asking a question in this way, except that some users who don't take the time to read and check the links might misinterpret the question, down-vote, negatively-comment, and move on without appreciating the purpose. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jan 11, 2018 at 1:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Hobbes I don't think the OP makes that assumption. The question here merely addresses a previous answer, and questions the statement in that answer. The goal of this question is to provide a space to establish that vehicles really do survive launches and landings, and I've up voted based on that. Probably the title should have been more neutral to avoid misinterpretation, and the body should make it even more explicit that it's addressing the linked. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jan 11, 2018 at 1:36
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    $\begingroup$ I'd note that the "jumble of loosely assembled broken parts" answer is downvoted, and accompanied by fairly heavily upvoted answers that say differently. If eight minutes of shaking could destroy a Tesla, I don't think they'd be selling very well. $\endgroup$
    – ceejayoz
    Jan 11, 2019 at 2:35
  • $\begingroup$ The rover doesn't have a solid body around it hiding all the important hardware. If you compare the rover a car without its shell, the car no longer looks quite as robust. $\endgroup$
    – Ray
    Feb 17, 2019 at 18:57

2 Answers 2


Let's see what was needed to make sure the LRV didn't disintegrate during launch. These are the same requirements that apply to the rest of the Saturn V stack, by the way.

  • You have to know what the environment will be. This is initially done by testing individual stages and the entire rocket: early launches are instrumented to measure noise, vibration and acceleration.
  • once you've done this for one rocket, you can develop models that help predict what the noise and vibration will be for your new design.

These days, noise and vibration data is published in a rocket's user manual. In the linked Ariane 5 user manual, chapter 3 lists the environmental data:

  • steady-state acceleration
  • regular and random vibration
  • noise
  • shocks
  • temperature
  • electromagnetic interference

Space agencies have test chambers that can simulate this environment. Computer simulation is also possible these days.

Once you know the noise and vibration environment, you can design for it. Noise and vibration exert a known load on a structure, you just have to make the structure strong enough to withstand this load.

The assumption that a car would not survive launch is incorrect. Cars are subject to noise and vibration analysis during development (to ensure passenger comfort and durability of the car), and SpaceX would have easy access to that data for a Tesla car. Even without that data, they will have put the car through noise and vibration testing (just like any other payload) because you really don't want bits dropping off and damaging the launcher.

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    $\begingroup$ Maybe this should be a separate question but noise?! 100/200 dB noise influences payload design? $\endgroup$ Jan 11, 2018 at 8:56
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    $\begingroup$ 200 dB is enough to disintegrate concrete, so yes. Rockets make just about the loudest sounds on Earth. Consider it another source of vibration. $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Jan 11, 2018 at 9:06

Because the lunar rover was well packed up. See the simulated unpacking below.

In any case the rover was designed from the ground up to survive launch, unlike other strange payloads.

  • $\begingroup$ folding it doesn't make it any more robust $\endgroup$
    – user20636
    Jan 10, 2018 at 19:36
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    $\begingroup$ Sure it does. It is set up such that one part supports the others, and isn't as weak as it will be when set up. Generally compact things are sturdy, things that are spread out are less sturdy. Also note that the seats weren't installed, which are one of the weaker parts. $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Jan 10, 2018 at 19:39
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    $\begingroup$ the seats were installed (you can see them folded in the animation), the folding didn't cause one part to support the other, the wheels and other parts were less securely attached in their folded state. The rover would have survived launch in its set up state, $\endgroup$
    – user20636
    Jan 11, 2018 at 8:45

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