Historically speaking, astronauts have had some pretty cool ways of getting from the building where they don their spacesuits to the launch pad. The Mercury crews rode in a small trailer that was pulled by a tractor, for instance.
Now, though, as space exploration becomes more privatized, things will be changing, and we already know what some of those changes are. See, a pair of astronauts — Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley — will be leaving Earth aboard a SpaceX Dragon on a journey to the International Space Station, but first, they’re getting a ride in a Tesla, according to a Tweet from NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.
Figures, right? I mean, billionaire incarceration volunteer and noted quarantine-hater Elon Musk owns both companies, so why waste the opportunity for PR? Specifically, Mssrs. Behnken and Hurley will be hitching a ride in a white Tesla Model X. The vehicle itself should be pretty standard by all accounts, but at least two things make it unique: its NASA logos.
Specifically, both of NASA’s most historic and well-known logos appear on the vehicle at once — something that NASA has historically forbidden. The older of the two should be familiar to anyone who has seen the excellent film Apollo 13. It’s called “the meatball” by space historians and served from 1959 to 1975, then again from 1992 to the present day. The second one is the red and white logotype known as “the worm” and was used from 1975 to 1992. It should be familiar to devotees of the 1986 film SpaceCamp.
In the past, astronauts have also been shuttled (pun so intended) in modified motorhomes known as Astro Vans (not to be confused with the “Rad-era” Chevy minivans of same name). The first was a gutted Clark Cortez motor home and was used during the Apollo missions starting in 1968 and continued through 1982 when it was replaced by a modified Airstream Excella, which was big enough to pack in the larger Space Shuttle crews.
Officers Behnken and Hurley are set to launch aboard the SpaceX Dragon on May 27.
Neither Tesla nor NASA immediately responded to requests for comment.
SpaceX set to to take its first astronauts into space