Could the Tesla Cybertruck take a ride on SpaceX’s Mars-bound Starship? If Elon Musk’s musings are any indication, the chance is higher than it may seem.
The tech entrepreneur responded to a Twitter video shared by “justpaulinelol” that showed a Falcon Heavy carrying a Cybertruck during a launch. The user declared it would be “more than epic” to launch the all-electric pickup truck and “make space cyber.”
In response, Musk suggested a better rocket:
Maybe on Starship? It’s def got the payload capacity …
Launching your latest product into space may seem like a bizarre decision, but Musk has form in sending his cars into orbit. In February 2018, he launched the Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time, with his personal red Tesla Roadster as a payload. The rocket has since completed two more conventional missions: the Arabsat-6A mission in April 2019 and the STP-2 launch in June 2019.
Sending up a Cybertruck would be impressive, but where would it go? Musk has previously claimed on Twitter that a pressurized version would be the official truck of the company’s Mars city efforts, expected to result in a full-fledged outpost as early as 2050.
SpaceX Starship: how it could fare with the Cybertruck
The Falcon Heavy launch marked the debut of the world’s most powerful operational rocket, with the ability to send 141,000 pounds into orbit. The first-generation Roadster weighed just 2,877 pounds, meaning the rocket made just short work of the vehicle.
The Starship is expected to take this to even higher levels. The ship is expected to offer a payload capacity of over 220,000 pounds. At the company’s September unveiling, Musk suggested this figure could rise to a staggering 330,000 pounds.
It’s unclear how much the Cybertruck weighs, but the Starship should handle it fine. Evidence suggests the vehicle offers large mass, based on the fact it can pull a Ford F-150 uphill with ease. The success of the tug-of-war suggests a high mass that enables high levels of friction.
When could this Cybertruck launch? SpaceX is aiming to send a prototype rocket to orbit early next year. The rocket’s first commercial mission is expected to take place in 2021. That means, if SpaceX is planning to complete a full test launch, it’s likely to take place sometime late next year or early 2021. As the Cybertruck isn’t expected to enter production until late 2021, SpaceX would have to either launch a prototype model, delay the first flight or skip the idea altogether.
SpaceX’s previous launch gives us some clues about we we could expect. The Falcon Heavy launch sent a dummy in the driver’s seat up into space, with David Bowie playing over the in-car sound system. A 5D quartz laser storage device held the complete copies of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy. Etched onto the dashboard was a sign that said “don’t panic,” a reference to the Douglas Adams Hitchhikers’ Guide series.
The car has since been on an impressive journey. One tracking website, WhereIsRoadster, shows the car is around 212 million miles away from Earth, completing nearly one billion miles in its orbit and orbiting the just 1.2 times. Assuming the battery still works, the dummy has listened to “Space Oddity” 182,790 times.
Could Cybertruck embark on a similar journey? Perhaps, but Musk has also hinted at a voyage to Mars for a pressurized version. The vehicle could prove useful in the nascent colony for shifting around big loads, examining Mars rock and conducting experiments. As SpaceX plans to send the first humans to Mars in the 2020s, could this be the vehicle those first explorers use to start a basic facility?