Spaceflight Insider

Elon Musk trolls the Internet with Falcon Heavy tweets

Artist's rendition of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy ascending toward space. Image Credit: SpaceX

Artist’s rendition of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy ascending toward space. Image Credit: SpaceX

It has been long-known that SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has a sense of humor. Indeed, Mr. Musk once quipped that the company would fund their Mars ambitions by selling underwear. Therefore, it is usually fairly easy to know when Musk is messing around.

However, it looks like Musk may have upped his humor game just a bit. On December 1, 2017, the SpaceX CEO sparked quite a discussion with a couple of tweets about the first flight of the company’s Falcon Heavy rocket:

Not unexpectedly, Musk’s followers were quick to respond. Early feedback could well be described as celebratory, with an occasional tweet from those seeking more information. Musk responded to some, with replies that only served to confirm the tweets.

Dutifully, spaceflight news outlets began reporting the unusual announcement.

Yes. No. Yes?

Both Ars Technica and The Verge ran stories not long after Musk tweeted the news. Shortly thereafter, however, information came to light that began to cast doubt on the sincerity of the tweets.

After Musk tweeted the plan, we asked him to confirm that it was real. Musk replied to us first by email, confirming that it was real. Then, after The Verge published a story about the plan, Musk sent us a response in a direct message on Twitter saying he “totally made it up.” – story by Sean O’Kane on The Verge.

While that may seem to be the end of it, Musk reached out to Eric Berger with Ars Technica to confirm that SpaceX will be launching Musk’s Tesla Roadster atop the Falcon Heavy for its inaugural launch in 2018.

There has been some confusion today because Elon Musk told The Verge on Saturday morning that he “totally made it up” about sending a Tesla Roadster to Mars. However, in multiple emails with Ars on Saturday afternoon, Musk confirmed that this plan is, indeed, real. Another SpaceX official also said the Tesla payload was very much real. – story by Eric Berger on Ars Technica.

The Verge later updated their story to reflect the updated information.

Questions remain

Stipulating that the mission will proceed as described by Mr. Musk, many questions remain unanswered.

With the care that NASA shows for planetary protection protocols when sending spacecraft to – or even near – the Red Planet, it is unclear to what level SpaceX’s payload will be treated prior to launch.

Similarly unclear is the orbit into which the Roadster will be placed. With many nations worried about the proliferation of debris crowding the space around Earth, the introduction of a payload of low scientific value into Mars’s vicinity may be cause for concern.

Regardless of the veracity of the tweets, one thing is certain: Elon Musk knows how to get people talking about the mission.

SpaceFlight Insider has reached out to SpaceX for more information and will provide additional updates when possible.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says his personal Tesla Roadster will sit atop the Falcon Heavy for its inaugural launch and will travel to Mars.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says his personal Tesla Roadster will sit atop the Falcon Heavy for its inaugural launch and will travel to Mars. Photo Credit: Tesla



Curt Godwin has been a fan of space exploration for as long as he can remember, keeping his eyes to the skies from an early age. Initially majoring in Nuclear Engineering, Curt later decided that computers would be a more interesting - and safer - career field. He's worked in education technology for more than 20 years, and has been published in industry and peer journals, and is a respected authority on wireless network engineering. Throughout this period of his life, he maintained his love for all things space and has written about his experiences at a variety of NASA events, both on his personal blog and as a freelance media representative.

Reader Comments

“With the care that NASA shows for planetary protection protocols when sending spacecraft to – or even near – the Red Planet, it is unclear to what level SpaceX’s payload will be treated prior to launch.”

Dumb statement. Payload can be in Mars Transfer Orbit without being anywhere near Mars.

“With many nations worried about the proliferation of debris”

Bag it or box it and that isn’t an issue. It’s just a mass simulator.

Let’s talk about what’s “dumb” shall we? There appears to be 2 parts to this, what is and what’s not. Let’s talk about what’s not:
1. Rather than using the maiden flight of this rocket to send an actual, useful payload to orbit the company’s CEO has stupidly suggested one of his other company’s automobiles be sent to Mars. Why? What practical, non-idiotic PR-stunt purpose does launching a car to Mars serve? None. There are about a billion more useful payloads this rocket could be used to launch. Suggesting otherwise is beyond dumb–it’s stupid. Supporting such an effort is the action of a mindless, arrogant SpaceX fanboy drone who willingly agrees with every stupid thing the company’s head suggests. Attacking someone who points this out–only proves how incapable of free thought the SpaceX fanbase has become.
What is.
2. Simply put? Musk’s tweets have been Trump-worthy in their stupidity and rashness. In a recent article, the poor little butt-hurt billionaire whined about how Armstrong and Cernan criticized his proposals. You know what? If you didn’t make stupid tweets, especially after two of your rockets destroyed payloads worth $51 million (CRS-7) and $185 million (Amos-6), people might take you a more seriously. Making asinine tweets about launching a car to Mars? Shows you’re not ready to be taken seriously. Your great achievement proving how rockets can be reused-is tarnished by idiocy like this.
So the next time SpaceX fans decide to insult others–consider how “dumb” the comments of both you and your deity look to the adults and professionals who have tolerated your rants and immaturity for so long. Before you insult others Chris-be mindful of how stupid the tweet of he who you worship sounds.

Please direct your dumbness to Boeing who flew test satellites, which never reached the intended orbit, on first D4H mission. Blocks of metal or barrels of water are not uncommon mass simulators on first flight of new vehicle with a lot of unknowns. You’d rather someone’s blood sweat and tears of actual flight hardware be on top? Dumb…only begins to describe this idea.

The fact you’d continue insulting anyone who challenges this publicity stunt, only underscores you’re just another mindless follower of the cult of Musk. The difference between mass simulators and a Tesla Roadster is one is a professional, scientific demonstrator, and the other is the product and personal property of a billionaire in desperate need of attention to promote his cars. I’m willing to bet if Boeing had suggested such a stupid idea you’d be up in arms about it.
There are plenty of researchers who’d risk their “blood, sweat and tears” to reach orbit. To suggest it makes more sense to launch a car to Mars just highlights how big of an idiot you are. I’d further debate this, but you’re too far gone, a lost cause.

Helen Christensen

Chris – The only thing dumb here, is your support of this publicity stunt. How could you be so supportive of something so stupid? You really should stop commenting as you’re making a fool of yourself. As to the alleged value of this moronic publicity stunt. Elon, there’s enough crap in space. If you’re going to launch something it should serve a purpose other than to promote your hyper-expensive cars.

I wonder if NASA will say “NO” to the car being launched. They would have to clean the hell out of that thing before it comes close to a planetary body if they don’t want life clinging on to the vehicle touching soil.

I do hope it’s true he will launch it, it will be interesting if it will be able reach it.

If anything it will only car off planet since the Moon Rover.

– It isn’t going anywhere near another planetary body
– If it did happen to hit Mars (which it won’t) it would burn up and reentry in little pieces at best.
– By reaching “it” you mean TMI not Mars surface or even Mars orbit
– The car is relatively low mass for FH performance to TMI.

Humans are going to mars soon. We will contaminate it with life. When is it going to be alright to have earth’s life sent to Mars as it is going to happen. What date will be acceptable and to who? So I for one don’t car if it’s this year or 10 years from now. The forth car in space…cool.

It’s funny how you guys are really taking it so serious…

How is revolutionizing space travel with your own company, while marketing your other company at the same time stupid? When they first launched dragon they sent up a big wheel of cheese. You complain about a small car in space causing space junk. What about all the space shuttle external tanks flying around in low eart orbit?

1. So far Ich remember all space shuttle tanks reentered shortly after separation. The main engines cutoff before reaching orbit. So the tank came back on a long balistic way and burned on reentry in the atmospere.
2. Your main thing is right. There is to much junk in space.
3.A Tesla in interplanetary space is not a bigger problem than a mass-simulator.
I agree with that: It’s clever to use the Demo Mission for promotion.

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