Elon Musk's Victory Lap

The Atlantic 

Musk rarely addresses a room full of reporters about SpaceX, but a victory lap was certainly in order Tuesday night. After all, Musk had just successfully put in space a cherry-red Tesla convertible, with a mannequin wearing a SpaceX space suit that took three years to design, sitting inside. Musk, wearing a plain black T-shirt, appeared calm and almost a little dazed. "I didn't really think this would work," he said. But it did--for the most part. The upper stage, the part of the rocket that carried the Tesla, made it into orbit and broadcast live views of Earth against a star-specked void. Like the launch, you had to see the video to believe it. "You can tell it's real because it looks so fake," Musk said. "The colors all look kind of weird in space ... Everything's too crisp." A couple of engine blasts by the upper stage helped push the Tesla way out of Earth's orbit, and, it appears, toward the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. SpaceX planned to put the Tesla in an orbit around the sun between Earth and Mars, but the car seems to have traveled much farther, according to a graphic Musk shared Tuesday--and which astronomers are still trying to make sense of, based on the numbers provided. The Falcon Heavy's side boosters successfully detached and returned to Earth, touching down nearly in unison in a move that looked like something out of science fiction. The rocket's third and center booster didn't make it. The core came barreling back to Earth and just missed its target, a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. It hit the water traveling at 300 miles per hour. The impact knocked out two engines on the ship and send debris flying all over the deck. Musk said an igniter in the booster may not have had enough propellant to relight the engines and complete the complicated landing maneuver, which involves a flip in the sky.