What the Starman’s Crazy Journey Stands for

by Ciro Borriello

Planet Earth rapidly shrinking behind and unfiltered sunlight beating on the spotless Roadster’s sunshield, as Starman sits back relaxed and ready for the adventure.

On Tuesday, Feb. 6th 2018 at 3:45 PM ET, Falcon Heavy successfully lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Only the Saturn V moon rocket, last flown in 1973, could deliver more payload to orbit.

Human beings need inspiration.

Technology doesn’t always automatically improve. Hard work makes it better and better, and hard work shall not be taken for granted if people are not motivated. If they are not inspired by a vision. We landed on the moon back in 1969 and more than 40 years later we could barely fly a manned mission to Low Earth Orbit.

Thank you SpaceX for igniting that vision again, for making life interesting and inspiring.

The morning after the launch, I could observe the usual commuters. The heads were not down dwelling on day-to-day sorrows and worries, this time they had a reason to look up to the sky and see something. Not just the clouds of our thin atmosphere, but what awaits us beyond that. They could imagine that absurd cherry-red Tesla floating up in space, spinning softly and cruising away in the Solar system. They could see Starman chilling out, with a couple of good books at hand – Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and Asimov’s “Foundation Trilogy” – just in case he got bored during his billion-year travel.

And it’s not about the 27 Merlin engines firing together, or the smoothly synchronized landing of the side boosters back to Cape. It’s not about the stunning sound and vibration of those 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, or the triple ignition of the upper stage engine. All these are “just” technological feats that leave an aerospace engineer like me in tears.

But there’s more to that. It’s about the dreaming of what could be possible next. And that foolish vision of Starman sitting there in a car, our planet in the background, one of my favourite David Bowie’s song playing out loud – this is so strangely authentic.

Made on Earth by humans.

The value and beauty of inspiration is very much underrated, no question. Life on Earth has to be about more than just solving problems…” Elon Musk.

About the author

Ciro Borriello holds an aerospace engineering BSc and MSc at the Politecnico of Torino and an MBA at the University of Cambridge. Previously R&D and Innovation Project Manager at Airbus, now Space Programme Management officer at EUMETSAT, and technology entrepreneur.

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