The Fastest Car Stereo Ever [UPDATED]

Today is the big day. Or rather, today is the heavy day. The day that the Falcon Heavy is (finally) scheduled for blast-off. Yes, it might be scrubbed. Or it might just blow up. If it launches, it will be an important day in the history of car stereo.

As you know, the Falcon Heavy is SpaceX's new and untested rocket. A regular Falcon rocket, routinely used to launch satellites and ferry supplies to the International Space Station, uses 9 Merlin engines. The Falcon Heavy is essentially 3 Falcon boosters strapped together, with 27 Merlins. It will be twice as powerful as the most powerful rocket in use today. And it will be another evolutionary step toward the SpaceX rockets that might carry humans to Mars.

But on this, its first test flight, it won't carry any satellites or cargo; the odds of mishap are so high that no one, least of all the insurance companies that insure rocket launches, is willing to risk an expensive payload. These kinds of test flight rockets usually carry a ballast of steel or concrete blocks. But this is an Elon Musk project, so the Falcon Heavy will instead carry a car.

In particular, its nose cone holds Elon Musk's personal electric Tesla Roadster. And, as I reported earlier, the Roadster's stereo will be playing David Bowie's Space Oddity on repeat play.

Of course, a midnight-cherry-red convertible, with the top down, cruising to Mars, stereo playing, is not complete without someone in the driver's seat. So Musk has placed a "Starman" in the car, a dummy outfitted in a stylish SpaceX space suit, one arm casually draped over the door. You can see his Instagram photo of the car and driver here. It warms my heart to know that kids will see that image, see how cool it is, and decide to study STEM in college.

When the Falcon Heavy launches and subsequently escapes the clutches of earth's gravity on its way to a heliocentric orbit, it will make audio history by easily becoming the fastest car stereo ever. At separation, the car's velocity measured relative to earth will be between 11.5 and 11.8 km/s, or about 26,000 mph. Here on earth, the fastest street-legal cars and their stereos top out at less than 300 mph and the fastest experimental cars, while able to go supersonic, travel at less than 800 mph.

Sure, the Apollo astronauts carried portable cassette players and even electric rovers to the moon, and I'm sure the International Space Station has some kind of entertainment systems, but this is the first (and very possibly the last) car stereo to go into space. And that red convertible will hurtle through the cold emptiness of space for billions of years, and at least for awhile, its stereo will be cranked. If only there was air out there, so we could hear it Doppler-shifting like crazy as it speeds past.

The launch is scheduled for today (Tuesday) for 1:30 pm Eastern time at the Kennedy Space Center. I think I'll drive down to Titusville to see if it goes up. You can watch the live launch here. Incidentally, SpaceX will attempt a triple landing, that is, to land all three of the first stage boosters. The center core will land on the drone ship out in the Atlantic and the two side cores will return to Cape Canaveral. SpaceX has posted an animation showing the entire mission. Sure, today's launch might be scrubbed for another day. But when it does launch, it will be quite a show.

[UPDATED] Yes, I saw the whole thing. It was spectacular!