Starman in Roadster Isn’t Going to Mars, But We May Be... Soon

Feb 12, 2018

SpaceX's live webcast of the Tesla Roadster.
Credit SpaceX

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch has ignited hopes of sending humans back to the moon, and on to Mars. But what about that cherry-red Tesla left floating through space?

“I love rockets, and I love cars,” said Jason Davis, digital editor for The Planetary Society. “When I first saw the Roadster in space with Earth behind it, my jaw just kind of dropped.”

Not everyone finds “Starman in Roadster” beautiful, and many are less than enthusiastic about the cosmic message the car sends about humanity. Davis, himself, says he’s uncomfortable with the fact that the choice was made unilaterally, by a private citizen – a wealthy, white male – and that the only discussion has come after the fact. 

“It’s possible to hold conflicting views in your brain,” Davis said, "to think it’s great on one hand, and to see problems with it on the other hand.”

But Davis is not at all conflicted about the Falcon Heavy rocket that carried Starman into space. It is the most powerful rocket since the Saturn V that propelled the Apollo missions. Its successful launch puts the moon, and many say Mars, within reach.

Robert Zubrin, founder of the Mars Society, says we could be sending humans to Mars in a mere eight years, if the federal government made it a goal.

That’s a lot sooner than NASA’s goal of “the 2030s.” But Zubrin, who revolutionized the way the space community thought about Mars settlement with his 1996 book The Case for Mars,  says SpaceX is proving it can make major space flight advances in half the time and for a fraction of the cost of NASA.

“I think the country should seize this opportunity with both hands to finally get a space program that’s going somewhere,” Zubrin said.

And, by somewhere, he means Mars.