Last week, Tesla CEO and real-life mad scientist Elon Musk shot a car into space. Part of his SpaceX company testing the most powerful rocket in the world, The Falcon Heavy. The rocket is part of Musk’s hopes to eventually make space travel as common as taking a cross-country flight and other fun space ventures. The car is a $100,000 Tesla Roadster that was Musk’s own personal vehicle. There’s a dummy in the driver seat name Starman, the radio is playing David Bowie on a loop, and the touchscreen display says “Don’t Panic!” from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”
Now let us set the scientific achievements of this off to the side for a moment—that’s really freakin’ cool! There is a car in space and it’s playing David Bowie on a loop. At first, I was a bit perplexed why anyone would shoot their own $100,000 car into space—but then I remembered that Elon Musk is worth more money than I could ever hope to have to my name (pause as I look out the window somberly while “Sound of Silence” plays). One of the hopes for the car’s stellar voyage is that it will reach Mars and enter that planet’s orbit. Now I may have some of this confused so if my science or facts on this isn’t 100%, apologies in advance.
Two things occur to me as I think about this Roadster making its way to Mars. One, if it’s not playing Bowie’s “Life on Mars” when it arrives then this whole mission will have been a colossal failure. Two, I know that when this car arrives at Mars it will be greeted by a school charity car wash set up next to the Big Lots. Right now there is a classroom full of science students at every high school in the area rushing to launch their own missions to wash space vehicles so they can go to New York.
This is the start of what I’m sure us humans are bound to do, create amazing intergalactic space freeways. Think of all the possibilities! I’m sure Apple or Google is working on a way to add the Crab Nebula to their map programs. Why in a decade’s time you may be saying to your iPhone “Hey Siri, I need directions to Alpha Centauri.” It may not be long before you power up your Space Roadster, make a wrong turn by Venus, and hear “In 3.1 lightyears, make a U-Turn.”
I’m looking forward to Pluto Disney opening up, and I hear that they just opened a Cracker Barrel off exit 9,278 on Space-81. As we think of space travel becoming more like regional travel, there is one VERY important question we must ask. What planets will become Space Gatlinburg and Space Myrtle Beach? Where will the first Ripley’s branded space attraction open, and who will be the first to open a restaurant in space? IHOP or Waffle House?
What if I propose this not as a way to clutter up our galaxy, but as a way to show the universe how awesome we humans can be when we’re not constantly fighting one another (that’s the heavy thought line in the humor piece, folks. I’ll accept my Pulitzer now). Think of how great it will be when we greet aliens from another world not with pomp and circumstance and a military presence, but by sitting down to break bread over the legendary Shoney’s Breakfast Buffet.
I want our alien friends to learn not of the wonders just of our world, our culture, and our arts—but of Gas Station hot dogs and those packs of Slim Jim that have the cheese stick and the sausage together. I hope to personally one day be able to say to the ambassador from Outer Ringmar “On behalf of the people of Earth, we welcome you! Please try one of these Pizza flavored Combos.”
I, for one, welcome our new space freeways and exits packed full of convenience. Just think of how nice it will be to hear one of those ads on the radio for Motel Six saying “We’ll leave the airlock on for ya.” A new day is coming my friends. A day in which I can order a Scattered, Smothered, and Covered while having a lovely view of the rings of Saturn. See you next week.