Developed and launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, the unmanned Falcon Heavylifted off at 3:45 p.m. from the Kennedy Space Center for a test missionto deliver one of Musk’s electric Tesla cars into orbit around Mars. Adummy dubbed “Starman” was at the steering wheel of the convertible.
Video images beamedfrom space of Musk’s red Roadster circling the blue planet after theprotective covering had dropped away and exposed the car. A space-suitedmannequin was at the wheel, named “Starman” after the David Bowie song.
By 3:52 p.m., the booster rockets separated and, about five minuteslater, the two side cores landed upright, under their own power, atnearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in a feat of precisionengineering and flight.
SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk revealed pictures of the surprisepassenger Monday. The figure is in the driver’s seat of Musk’s red TeslaRoadster, the cargo for Tuesday’s first test flight of the FalconHeavy. The right hand is on the wheel while the left arm rests on theconvertible’s door.