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SpaceX boss Elon Musk to launch his electric car into orbit around Mars

Elon Musk is to launch his own electric car into orbit around Mars, playing David Bowie’s Space Oddity.

The SpaceX chief executive said when the company’s Falcon Heavy rocket launches in January, the “payload will be my midnight cherry Tesla Roadster”.

He added: “Destination is Mars orbit. Will be in deep space for a billion years or so if it doesn’t blow up on ascent.”

The billionaire entrepreneur tweeted his plans last week and it was uncertain whether he was joking.

“Just bear in mind that there is a good chance this monster rocket blows up, so I wouldn’t put anything of irreplaceable sentimental value on it,” he was quoted as saying.

SpaceX confirmed last night the plan is for real, though no date has been set yet for the launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

The Falcon Heavy has been designed to carry crew and supplies to deep space destinations such as the moon and the Red Planet.

It can propel 54,000kg (54 metric tons) – the weight of a loaded Boeing 737 jet – into orbit.

This is two times the load the current biggest rocket in operation, the Delta IV Heavy, can propel.

Musk unveils ambitious SpaceX rocket plans

The Falcon Heavy has 27 engines – three times the number SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets have.

In September, SpaceX unveiled designs for a rocket capable of interplanetary travel within our own solar system which could also be used for transport on Earth.

Then, in March, the California-based company made history when it launched and retrieved a rocket which had successfully returned after a previous launch. Three months later, in the space of a weekend, it pulled off two successful rocket missions.

However, its missions haven’t always gone to plan. In September 2016, an unmanned rocket carrying a satellite intended to be used by Facebook exploded during a routine test.

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