The Tesla Roadster and its Starman dummy pilot embarked on a “billion-year” journey of the solar system on February 6, 2018. The electric sports car handpicked by SpaceX founder Elon Musk is now barreling through the void of space somewhere beyond the orbit of Mars. Now, a year after the historic rocket launch, SpaceX has shared an incredible detail, which most keen-eyed observer likely missed on the day of the launch. The Falcon Heavy rocket blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Strapped to the powerful twin-booster rocket was a crimson red car from Tesla’s range of electric sports vehicles.
Mr Musk deliberately picked the outrageous payload in a bid to have “something fun and without irreplaceable sentimental value” fly off into space.
The SpaceX and Tesla founder argued a typical deadweight payload simulating satellite cargo would have been too boring for his plan.
But Mr Musk did not stop there, and inserted a dummy pilot wearing a SpaceX spacesuit in the car.
Dubbed Starman after David Bowie’s hit song of the same name, the rocket’s pilot was just one of a few easter eggs hidden around the Tesla Roadster.
Underneath the car’s bonnet is a green circuit board with a tongue-in-cheek message printed out for any potential extraterrestrial encounters.
The tiny message hidden inside the Roadster reads: “Made on Earth by humans.”
And another message, this time in reference to Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, was displayed on the dashboard.
The book’s signature catchphrase “Don’t Panic” was displayed on the dashboard’s screen and was seen during SpaceX’s live stream of the event.
But there was another easter egg hidden around the Roadster, revealed this month in a tweet shared by SpaceX’s employment division.
Two photos of Starman and the Tesla Roadster show a commemorative plaque of more than 6,000 names strapped to the car – SpaceX employees involved in the rocket launch.
The SpaceX Jobs account tweeted: “The names of SpaceX employees are riding along with Starman on his journey through space.”
During the Roadster’s launch, SpaceX flight reliability engineer Lauren Lyons praised the amount of work put into the endeavour.
She said: “The work that goes into defining, building and launching a vehicle of this sort is no small feat.
“We’re super excited to be part of the Roadster’s billion-year journey through the solar system.”
Mr Musk also revealed a miniature Hot Wheels toy model of the Tesla Roadster was attached to the car’s dashboard.
The South African tech entrepreneur said little details like these are “silly and fun” but silly and fun things are very important to look out for.