Elon Musk’s ‘Starman’: Is it Really Legal for Billionaires to Launch Their Roadsters into Space?

Document Type


Publication Date


Course Date

Spring 2019

Course Number

CSO 351

Course Title

Fundamentals of Spaceflight Regulation and Licensing


On a sunny Tuesday in February, SpaceX, the privately held rocket company of billionaire Elon Musk, launched a 23-story tall rocket, known as the Falcon Heavy, into space. Bolted into the second stage of the rocket was a luxurious, cherry red Tesla roadster. If you somehow missed this news, it’s actually worth going back and watching the videos. It’s no overstatement to say that it may be a watershed moment for humankind. This is the first known instance of a private individual building the world’s most powerful operational rocket and launching his own private sports car into space. Both the computer animated video of the launch and the genuine mission video are breathtaking. In fact, one could mistake the actual mission video for the computer animation. It was that perfect.