If you were at SXSW over the weekend, and you happened to be at the Westworld panel, you were in for a treat. At the end of the panel discussion, Elon Musk appeared with show creators Johnathan Nolan and Lisa Joy. Why exactly? Well, mostly to end the panel on an optimistic note, but also to show the trailer that Nolan created promoting the launch of the SpaceX Heavy Falcon rocket. The launch was incredible itself, but, it was interesting because the rocket carried a Tesla Roadster, which belonged to Musk. The long-term goal of the rocket is to eventually carry humans into space beyond low Earth orbit.
Like a lot of people, Nolan used to spend a lot of time thinking about space as a kid. He grew up watching Super 8 footage of Saturn rocket launches. But over time, that excitement faded, until recently. Last year, Nolan was having a conversation with a friend, and they were throwing around the question of – how do you inspire people? Their solution might not be exactly what you think. The friend happened to be Elon Musk, and they set off on an adventure. Set to David Bowie’s “Starman”, the video tracks the preparation, successes, and failures of the Falcon Heavy launch last month.
The event was covered extensively at the time, but the trailer that Nolan cut together includes new footage that’s being seen by the public for the first time. While the rocket’s two side boosters successfully landed after launch, the center booster didn’t fare as well, and the trailer offers the first look at that rocket’s destruction. It also includes numerous new shots of the prep for the launch, including Musk’s infamous red Tesla Roadster being attached.
“I had the privilege of being down with Elon in launch control for the Falcon Heavy launch, and there was an incredible spirit there on the day. It felt extraordinary, thinking about all the people that had contributed to putting this together, and the spirit of it. And something that I haven’t felt in an awfully long time. We tried to distill that essence down. The only way I know how to express it: we cut a trailer. It’s not a trailer for a movie. It’s not a trailer for a TV show. What we’re hoping this is the trailer for one part of the next chapter of the human story.”
The video is really cool. It even includes the failed return of the rocket’s center booster, which crashed into the ocean instead of landing gracefully on the drone ship that it was aiming for. I will leave you with Space X’s description of the video:
When Falcon Heavy lifted off, it became the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. With the ability to lift into orbit nearly 64 metric tons (141,000 lb)—a mass greater than a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage, and fuel–Falcon Heavy can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost. Following liftoff, the two side boosters separated from the center core and returned to the landing site for future reuse. Falcon Heavy put a Tesla Roadster and its passenger, Starman, into orbit around the sun. At max velocity, Starman and the Roadster will travel 11 km/s (7mi/s) and travel 400 million km (250 million mi) from Earth.