I was wondering. Is the Falcon Heavy 2nd Stage still attached to the payload adapter / Tesla Roadster or was payload separation part of the test flight objectives?

  • $\begingroup$ My guess is that it is still attached to second stage as the Tesla performed another burn 6 hours after launch. $\endgroup$ Feb 9, 2018 at 3:36
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, but I meant after the third burn to escape Earth, did they detach as a regular interplanetary mission would? Or is the car and the rocket in one single piece? I have looked all over for an official source for that answer. $\endgroup$ Feb 9, 2018 at 3:38
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    $\begingroup$ Separation makes the Roadster harder to find, and now you have TWO pieces of "space junk" (a specific term, not a judgement) instead of one. The rocket body is bigger and white, so it helps make the Roadster more visible for a longer time for optical tracking. Can't say for sure, but I believe that separation would be a bad idea. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Feb 9, 2018 at 3:57
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    $\begingroup$ I'm wondering if this answers your question? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Feb 9, 2018 at 4:24

2 Answers 2


From GIZMODO.COM: Eric Holthaus over at Grist reported that you can just head over to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s HORIZONS web interface, click “change” next to the target body, type in “SpaceX,” hit enter, then click “Generate ephemeris.” In the write up it states "A plaque on the attachment fitting between the Falcon Heavy upper stage and the Tesla is etched with the names of more than 6,000 SpaceX employees."
This seems to imply that the Tesla and upper stage are traveling together.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't know... It's hardly the definitive and unambiguous statement I'd hope for. $\endgroup$ Feb 17, 2018 at 11:04

Sorry I can't provide specific links (I've not read about this in over 2 weeks, and when I did, I read a lot), but the Roadster is still attached to the 2nd stage.

Some asteroid trackers have obtained astrometry of the roadster and a) they detect only one object, b) the measured brightness is too bright for it to just be the car.

The 2nd stage is larger and heavier than the car, dramatically increasing its optical cross-section. And as you can see in the photo below, the cameras are attached to it, rather than to the car, so if separation did occur, it would have been after the live feed ended. But like I said, only a single object has been tracked by astronomers, even after the end of the video feed.

As a last note, I'll add my personal opinion that it makes sense not to detach the car from the 2nd stage because there's no point in doing so. It would've added complexity to the setup, and also given the Solar System two pieces of added space junk instead of the current one. The publicity stunt was accomplished and that was irrespective of the car detaching or not. On the engineering end, the 2nd stage was tested and performed to spec, so success on that front too.

Tesla Roadster mounted on the 2nd stage of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy, awaiting its maiden voyage

  • $\begingroup$ Here's the mystery. Some flat-earthers are yelling "nyaa nyaa" because there's something in the videos at several times, including 6:51. It looks like a rocket 2nd stage.It would be nice if we knew what it was. $\endgroup$ Mar 23, 2018 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ Fun video, dripping with disdain; thanks for linking. $\endgroup$ Mar 26, 2018 at 7:51
  • $\begingroup$ Elaborating on Mr Flatearth's points: 1) Stars: I'm pretty tired of this; as an astronomer and photographer, no, I don't expect stars in these images. 2) Space turd: Very interesting! Doesn't look like a satellite with that shape; doesn't it look like dead pixels either. 3) Earth "image" glitch: This is compressed video, so you CAN get glitches in the parts of an image that is changing. 4) Why would SpaceX create a faulty video if they're trying to fool people into believing the Earth is spherical? They can afford a non-glitchy video with stars! Has this guy asked himself that? $\endgroup$ Mar 26, 2018 at 8:02
  • $\begingroup$ I feel like we shouldn't be entertaining flat-earthers. There is only so much our education system can do to teach people how to think. If that didn't do it, nothing will. It's so distracting to always have to pause to explain for the nth time how we know the earth must must must be round. It's like religion. People cling to their beliefs and no argument could ever shake those beliefs. It's so much better to do the opposite of what I just did in this answer and just move on with the science instead of stopping for the nonsense distractions :D $\endgroup$
    – user36480
    Jun 11, 2020 at 8:20

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