In 2018, Tesla launched a novel reward as part of its updated referral program. The reward was simple but unique — new owners with one qualifying referral would have the chance to send a photo of their choice to space. The image would be launched in a Falcon 9 rocket from Elon Musk’s private space firm, SpaceX.
Few details were provided by Tesla then, though the company noted that its “Launch Your Photo into Deep Space Orbit” reward would involve the company laser-etching any photo of the owner’s choice and sending it to deep space. Tesla estimated then that qualified owners should expect an email from the company asking them to submit their selected photo sometime in December 2018.
“Launch Your Photo into Deep Space Orbit – We’ll laser-etch any image onto glass and send it into deep space orbit for millions of years. Refer more friends while you wait for an alien race to discover your payload,” Tesla wrote.
Tesla ultimately sent this email at the beginning of June this year. Despite being several years late, numerous owners promptly submitted their selected photos to the company. However, some members of the r/TeslaMotors subreddit lightly mentioned that they ended up missing Tesla’s notification about the reward, partly because it’s been so long since it was announced.
As can be seen on Tesla’s official page for the referral program, it will be sending a photo mosaic to space. A close look at the photo mosaic reveals a number of interesting image choices from qualified owners, from selfies, family pictures, artworks, photos of beloved pets, and even a QR code. Needless to say, Tesla’s laser-etched photo mosaic is definitely interesting — possibly even confounding any extraterrestrial that may find it floating around in space sometime in the future.
The laser-etched photo mosaic forms the iconic image of Starman and his Tesla Roadster with the Earth in the background. The historic image was snapped during the maiden flight of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy spacecraft in 2018, which carried Elon Musk’s personal Tesla Roadster as its mass simulator. Starman and Elon Musk’s spacefaring Tesla Roadster has become part of pop culture, inspiring artworks, and even a comic book series.
The photo mosaic is set to be launched this August 4, 2022. The image will be carried to space in a Falcon 9 rocket that will also be carrying South Korea’s Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) spacecraft. Clive Neal, a lunar scientist at the University of Notre Dame, has noted that the KPLO carries a “cadre of instruments that will yield important information about the Moon.”
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