Musk Plans to Drive a Tesla to Mars (with Some Rocket Help)

SAN FRANCISCO Seriously people. Forget P.T.

Barnum. Elon Musk is who you mean.When it comes to extravagant marketing moves, few 21st-century entrepreneurs can hold a candle to the SpaceX and Tesla CEO.

Here's the latest: Musk tests out SpaceX's newest, biggest rocket, the Falcon Heavy, on Tuesday in Florida. Riding shotgun will be a new Tesla Roadster featuring a dummy (one assumes) wearing a Musk & Co. space suit.

Destination: Mars.Musk releaseda few photos of his space-bound red sports car with dummy driver on Instagram Monday, with the simple caption "Starman and Red Roadster." They're seen sitting atop what looks like the nose cone of the Falcon Heavy, a powerful new rocket whose successful inaugural test flight could lead to commercial launches in the fall.

SpaceX also produced an animated video that depicts the planned stages of the Falcon Heavy flight. Set appropriately to David Bowie's Life on Mars?, the animation shows how the three powerful boosters get the Starman and his Tesla Roadster on its way before returning to SpaceX launchpads to be used again.

The Starman, left arm hanging out over the door like some Saturday night hot rodder, is left to placidly guide his mean machine into Martian orbit. If aliens ever caught a glimpse of this sight, there's no telling what they would think.Musk first teased that he might be up to this memorable stunt in December, shortly after heunveiled the new version of the two-seat electric coupe, effectively stealing the show from his wickedly fast Tesla Semi truck.

Both vehicles aren't due for a few years.Last fall, Musk teased images of the space suits his company was designing along with a crew pod that would be used to take NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.The entrepreneur, who made his seminal fortune as one of the four men behind PayPal, has been aggressive about pursuing new forms of transportation here and in outer space.

His electric car company is grappling with production snags on its entry-level Model 3, a critical model that could usher in an era of mainstream EVs. He also is trying to sell the nation on solar at time when the current administration is touting traditional fuels such as fossil and coal. And his Boring Company hopes to drill tunnels to accommodate high speed sleds that would shuttle car commuters in their cars past traffic jams at high speeds.

Musk also is know for his rather outlandish sense of humor. After the Boring Company starting selling baseball caps with its droll logo, Musk mentioned that next up for sale on the site would be flamethrowers.Those quickly sold out, and were promoted with a short clip showing Musk wielding one of the weapons with a childlike grin on his face.

This all means that if the Falcon Heavy gets another run, the giant rocket may get adorned with yet more wares from Musk's big tent say some Tesla solar roof tiles. Or maybe a Powerwall energy storage device (on sale soon at your neighborhood Home Depot.)Step right up, folks.

Contributing: Florida TodayFollow USA TODAY tech writer Marco della Cava on Twitter.

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