This is the Tesla that Elon Musk will launch to orbit Mars

Posted December 23, 2017

After all, in order for a vehicle to have autonomous driving capabilities, it would need to have an incredibly advanced navigation system, likely in the form of high-fidelity GPS, high-definition maps, and real-time traffic updates, among other features. But if there was any lingering doubt, he made it clear Friday that SpaceX does indeed intend to launch a Tesla Roadster on the maiden flight of its Falcon Heavy rocket.

Launching and landing a rocket would've seemed like a fanciful idea just a few years ago, but companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin have shown how it's done as they work to develop their separate reusable rocket systems.

Chief Executive shared the photos in a tweet, saying the rocket was now at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

Earlier this week, Musk revealed photos of the first Falcon Heavy ever built inside a Cape Canaveral hangar.

"Major navigation overhaul coming in early 2018". The first test launch is scheduled for January 2019. Falcon Heavy is also up to the task: It can ferry a payload of 37,000 pounds - roughly 14 Tesla Roadsters' worth of mass - to Mars. This highly elliptical path goes out to the orbit of Mars, then back to Earth orbit on a near-endless loop (hence the "billion years or so" detail from Musk).

With Musk's assurance that the upcoming navigation update would be far ahead of its current software's capabilities, Tesla's online community speculates that the update is a prerequisite for the upcoming Autopilot 2.5 suite of features.

Both Musk and Carmack have experience in building rockets.