94 votes
Accepted

Is Starman in the Tesla Roadster a real human?

'Starman' is a mannequin (store dummy) wearing a real SpaceX developed space suit that was a qualification unit, used in designing the space suit for the Commercial Crew program. During the SpaceX ...
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  • 76.7k
92 votes
Accepted

Can I drive Elon Musk's Tesla after it's been in space for 100 Years?

Making a car run when it's been stored on Earth for 10 years can be a challenge. Storing it in space makes things worse. All lubricants will have evaporated. Cold welding is a possibility. The ...
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  • 122k
90 votes

Is the SpaceX Falcon Heavy payload (a Tesla car) space junk?

No, because it is not in Earth orbit First the payload does have a purpose: it is a boilerplate, and those have a purpose, namely to "test various configurations and basic size, load, and handling ...
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  • 1,799
66 votes

Why is the first launch of Falcon Heavy sending a car instead of something useful?

The very first start of a new rocket is a risky endeavour. Since the system is put to test for the very first time as a whole, all kind of things can go wrong and chances are that the rocket doesn't ...
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  • 12.4k
65 votes
Accepted

Why doesn't SpaceX land boosters in Africa?

The boosters do not have the range to get to Africa because they aren't going fast enough. If you look at the graphic below it shows a Falcon Heavy mission. The side boosters do not get very far ...
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  • 18.9k
63 votes

Is the SpaceX Falcon Heavy payload (a Tesla car) space junk?

Yes, it's space junk: after about 6 hours, the second stage will stop working and there will be no way to change the trajectory of stage and payload. So it's a non-functional satellite, i.e. junk. An ...
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  • 122k
63 votes
Accepted

Why did the Tesla Roadster spend time in the Van Allen belt?

Up until this flight of Falcon Heavy, officially, SpaceX could not fully deliver a satellite to [nearly circular] GEO (Geosynchronous Earth Orbit), but only to a [highly elliptical] GTO (Geosync ...
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  • 76.7k
59 votes

In Starman's roadster, where's the Towel?

According to Elon Musk's Twitter it's in the glove compartment, alongside a copy of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and the Foundation series on the Arch disk.
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  • 1,247
57 votes
Accepted

Why is there any launch window at all for the Falcon Heavy test flight?

First of all, a typical launch window for going towards Mars is about 2.5 hours maximum. As a goal is to send the payload towards Mars, that is one limit to the window. Also, there are a number of ...
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  • 119k
55 votes
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Falcon 9 design: Why is the cargo fairing so much wider than the lower parts?

The diameter of the stages is the largest size that can be transported by road without extensive "outsize load" issues (permits, having to move traffic lights and signs out of the way etc.). This ...
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  • 122k
54 votes

Is Starman wearing a seatbelt?

He most certainly is. The seatbelt can be seen clearly across both his shoulders. It is currently unclear whether or not the miniature Starman sat on the dashboard has a seatbelt. Apparently he is ...
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  • 2,127
50 votes

Why is the first launch of Falcon Heavy sending a car instead of something useful?

Why not deliver something useful to the space station like a new living segment? Many, many reasons. A dummy payload is almost always used on the maiden flight of a new rocket. The risk of failure ...
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  • 65.6k
50 votes
Accepted

Is a SpaceX launch completely automated?

The rocket is autonomous, it flies itself. The navigational math, engine, and flight dynamics of a Earth-based orbital class rocket in operation are far too complex for manual operation, especially ...
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  • 6,377
47 votes
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Will the Falcon Heavy be far enough in 12 seconds to not cause damage?

Not even close. In fact, at 12 seconds in, you're looking at maximum damage to not just the pad itself, but the surrounding area as well. You're going to have tons of debris (most of it burning and ...
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  • 6,810
47 votes
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Could the Lunar X-Prize have been won by the Tesla Roadster that was the Falcon Heavy test payload?

The rocket probably had the power to do it, however there were numerous challenges: The Tesla is not a moon rover, its batteries and motors were not designed for a vacuum with the extremes of heat ...
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  • 18.9k
44 votes

Is the SpaceX Falcon Heavy payload (a Tesla car) space junk?

Footnotes: ${}^1$ That the term "Space Junk" (as used in this answer and which is probably the right answer) has a different generally agreed meaning in spacecraft lingo than just plain "Junk" has ...
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  • 148k
44 votes
Accepted

Why the soot pattern on the nosecone of Falcon Heavy side booster?

It was charred by the center core after separation: (Source: SpaceX FH launch webcast) Looking at it I would expect one side to be charred too but it may not be - the nose cone is afaik composite (...
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  • 5,038
44 votes

Why is the Falcon Heavy center core recovery done at sea?

Because of accidents of geography and history. Both of the main US launch sites are where they are because rockets occasionally crash, and, for fully fueled heavy lift vehicles, worst-case impacts ...
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42 votes

Could a Falcon Heavy test flight be responsible for these observations?

If it looked something like this: ...then what you saw was very likely the 3rd burn of the second stage of the Falcon Heavy test flight, which sent the Roadster into orbit around the sun. The burn ...
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42 votes
Accepted

Could a Falcon Heavy really put six GPS Block III satellites in orbit at the same time?

Could you fit all six into a FH fairing? If not, would a slightly larger one be enough? I can't find dimensions for GPS III sats, but this Lockheed Martin image shows how much of a Delta Medium 4-...
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39 votes
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What was the fate of the main core of the first Falcon Heavy launch?

The core has been lost, according to the technical stream: If you wait until ~38 min and 30 seconds, the announcer says "We lost the center core". Update: Elon ...
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  • 1,039
39 votes

Is a SpaceX launch completely automated?

Elon Musk made reference to the "Holy Mouse Click" that happens right before they start loading fuel. From that point forward, the rocket will launch itself at the planned time, about 2 hours in the ...
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  • 119k
33 votes
Accepted

How is thrust transmitted from strap on boosters to the central core?

It’s a sense of scale issue. As much as the struts might look like flimsy bits of drainpipe, those rockets are around 15 meters wide, and the struts are more like the heavy steel beams used to hold up ...
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31 votes
Accepted

How long will it take Elon Musk's roadster to become the fastest ever car?

It'll take a hot minute. According to the FlightClub.io simulation, the Falcon Heavy flight will be doing 138.7 m/s (496 km/h) at the 30 second mark, beating the Koenigsegg Agera RS. It should hit ...
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31 votes

Is Starman in the Tesla Roadster a real human?

I first need to know if starman is a real human or a robot. Starman is the name given to the mannequin/space suit occupying the driver's seat of the car. It is not human nor is it a robot. If he ...
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  • 1,093
29 votes

Why are the Falcon Heavy boosters stacked in a row instead of a triangle?

The boosters are in a row because it's easy to assemble them horizontally when they're in a row. If they were stacked, the lower 2 stages would have to carry the weight of the third, so they'd need to ...
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  • 122k
29 votes
Accepted

How can Elon Musk's Tesla actually reach Mars orbit?

I haven't been able to find any statements on the exact target orbit, but the general consensus is that the payload won't be in orbit around Mars, it will be in an eliptical orbit around the sun and '...
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  • 406
29 votes

Can I drive Elon Musk's Tesla after it's been in space for 100 Years?

Let's look at some of the biggest stressors in the Tesla-Probe's lifetime- Launch- This will be a very stressful time. The car will be subject to around 3g for a few minutes, in a direction that it ...
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  • 119k
29 votes

Could SpaceX land on the moon today?

They could certainly crash an empty upperstage into the moon, they could do this with just a regular Falcon 9. However, the Liquid Oxygen would boil off before they could attempt to land using the 2nd ...
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  • 1,013
28 votes
Accepted

What does 'Rocket is in self align' mean?

Up until that point in time, ground control has been regularly telling the vehicle where it is in inertial space relative to the center of the Earth, and in which direction it is pointing in inertial ...
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  • 65.6k

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