SpaceX rockets on the new Tesla Roadster?! Seriously!
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SpaceX rockets on the new Tesla Roadster?! Seriously!

September 1, 2019

– Hi it’s me, Tim Dodd
the Everyday Astronaut. Elon Musk is again talking about combining
two of his companies, SpaceX and Tesla, in a pretty epic way. Instead of putting a Tesla into space, this time they’re talking about putting SpaceX’s rocket thrusters on their next generation Tesla Roadster. What? Okay, please, please,
please tell me this is true! Elon’s been tweeting up a storm, and claims that by adding
around 10 small rocket thrusters they can dramatically
improve acceleration, top speed, braking and
cornering. (chuckles) But can this actually be true? How big of thrusters will a car need to actually make a
substantial improvement? Surely we’re not looking at them putting a Merlin engine on a car, right? I mean that definitely goes against Tesla’s green initiatives. Well we’re gonna take a
pretty deep dive today, including what concerns we
have about a car with thrusters driving around on the streets? Are we all at risk of our
shin hairs being fried off on any random street corner? Or what about our cars
getting blown off the road every time a Tesla Roadster flies by? Well we’re gonna look at
some other technologies that are similar, look at
the actual cold gas thrusters SpaceX uses for their Falcon Nine rockets, and take a look at some
examples in spaceflight history that include using thrusters to increase the downforce of spacecraft. Then we’re going to calculate just how much faster the zero to 60 could be
on the Tesla Roadster if we add some reasonably
sized thrusters on it. To me, this is the ultimate definition of Everyday Astronaut. An everyday thing like a
car, with rocket technology! Hey, I mean come on, there’s a reason I named that
commercial I made for Tesla Space Ships for Earth. Yes, another opportunity to talk about both Teslas and rocket science. I couldn’t be more excited. Let’s get started! – [Announcer] Three, two,
one, zero and lift off! – [Neil] That’s one small step for a man. (upbeat, electrorock music) – On November 16th, 2017, Elon Musk showed the world
his new electric Semi. But then out of nowhere, he shocked us all by showing off the second
generation Tesla Roadster. (laughs)
This car is bonkers! Zero to 60 miles an hour in a
record shattering 1.9 seconds, over 250 mile an hour top speed and an all electric range of almost 1000 kilometers or 620 miles. The car is already quantifiably insane. Then, a few days later,
Elon dropped a small hint about the plans for the Roadster. He tweeted this: “Not saying the next gen
Roadster special upgrade package “will definitely enable it
to fly short hops, but maybe. “Certainly possible. “Just a question of safety. “Rocket tech applied to a car “opens up revolutionary possibilities.” Okay, yeah, sure Elon. Rocket technology on a car. But then we started to actually hear more about this special
addition SpaceX package. So when Elon tweeted on June 9th, 2018: “SpaceX option package
for new Tesla Roadster “will include around 10
small rocket thrusters “arranged seamlessly around the car. “These rocket engines
dramatically improve acceleration, “top speed, braking & cornering. “Maybe they will even
allow a Tesla to fly.” Whoa!
(chuckles) He really doubled down
on this whole thing. So what the heck could
he be talking about? Well then we ended up
learning a decent amount more on a follow up tweet: “Using the config you describe, “plus an electric pump
to replenish air in COPV, “when car power draw drops
below max pack power output, “makes sense. “But we’re gonna go a lot further.” So it seems like using something similar to the cold gas thrusters
off the Falcon Nine would be a good fit. So let’s take a look at those. At the top of the first stage
of the Falcon Nine rocket there are two packs of cold gas thrusters, otherwise known as nitrogen thrusters. SpaceX uses these nitrogen thrusters to re-orient the first stage after it lets go of the second stage. They do an initial 180 degree flip, so that the booster can
either do a boost back burn and head back to land, or so it can continue
on it’s parabolic arc and reenter, engine first. Meanwhile, the nitrogen
thrusters continue to home in on their landing target while the booster is
out of the atmosphere. Each pack of nitrogen thrusters
has four nozzles on them so between the two thruster packs, they can pitch, yaw or roll the booster. These run purely off
highly compressed nitrogen, which shoot out the
nozzle and provide thrust. The compressed air comes out really cold due to the laws of thermodynamics, hence cold gas thruster. So this is good news when it
comes to being on a street car. The thrusters don’t burn any propellants or have any kind of chemical reaction. So at least our shin
hairs won’t get burnt off every time one drives by, but
they might get a little cold. But I don’t think they’re
going to be street legal. I can imagine bursts of air ripping off other people’s fenders, or knocking over children or something, not to mention the noise. It might only be used
in emergency situations or off-road use, and that’s how Elon sees
it happening as well. But a lot of this depends on
how powerful they are, right? We can get a rough calculation on how powerful the first
stage’s nitrogen thrusters are based on how quickly the first stage rotates around its center of mass and knowing the approximate
weight of it at that moment. Which has led to speculation
of these nitrogen thrusters being around 1000 to
2000 pounds of thrust. Okay, so I don’t think they’re going to be anywhere near that
powerful on the Roadster, but at least we know what kind of thruster
they’re going to use. So how are they actually
going to work on the Roadster? Well, we don’t actually have to go too far to see real-life applications of this. As a matter of fact, Bosch
is working on a system to help keep motorcycles safe when their tires exceed
the limits of grip. These compact thrusters for motorcycles are only one time use, like an airbag, but they show how a thruster can fire if a motorcycle either
exceeds their lean limit or hits gravel or sand. And this is how I see
this system being used. With around 10 thrusters
mounted on the Roadster, the computer could sense when the vehicle reaches its limit of grip and either fire a thruster
upward to increase the downforce, or perhaps when stopping
or changing direction, it would fire in the opposite direction. So we know that firing a thruster could actually give momentary bursts either to aid in change of velocity, or increase the downforce of the car, which would increase
the grip on the tires. But here’s the cool thing. We’ve actually seen spacecraft use thrusters to increase
the vehicle’s grip in a low gravity environment before. On November 12, 2014, the European Space Agency’s Philae lander made contact with comet 67P. Due to the comets insanely low gravity of only 1/10000th the amount gravity we have here on the Earth, the lander was supposed to fire a thruster pushing itself into the
comet once it landed so it could secure itself with harpoons. Unfortunately the thruster didn’t fire and the Philae spacecraft
bounced and bounced and bounced, eventually landing in a
shadowy region of the comet and going into a permanent hibernation. Dang it. Okay cool, but how would
this actually work. Well Elon went on to tweet about how they’d basically take a
high powered electric air pump and compress air into a COPV, or composite overwrapped pressure vessel, that SpaceX uses to
hold high pressure gases like Nitrogen, TEA/TEB, and
Helium in their rockets. So the air pump could draw
power from the power pack whenever there’s spare power to be had, which is apparently most of the time. Not to mention, when an electric car is
regeneratively braking, it can often overwhelm the
recharge rate of the battery pack and have to revert to
traditional brake pads. So in times like these, some
of that additional power could be sent off to the
pump to compress air. So really, there is definitely
the capacity to compress air and have an additional
power boost, literally. So lastly, let’s talk
about the performance we could expect to see from such a system. Okay, I don’t wanna speculate too much on lateral grip or braking distances, but what I do wanna talk
about is acceleration. With a zero to 60 time
of just 1.9 seconds, most people agree that the Tesla has literally hit the absolute limits of what’s physically possible
with street tires on a car. There simply is not enough
grip to go any faster. But luckily, thrusters wouldn’t
utilize the tires’ grip, they would act externally on the car. Any force introduced by the thrusters pushes the mass of the vehicle
without using the tires. And this is a good thing. So here’s some of those numbers. If Elon claims the car
could fly, or at least hop, it would need a higher than
a 1:1 thrust to weight ratio. So let’s just make up some numbers here, let’s say the car will be about 1350 kilograms or 3000 pounds. That means we’d need at least 1350 kilograms
or 3000 pounds of thrust in order to hover. So let’s pretend each thruster has around 300 pounds of
thrust, which is a lot, it would need all 10
thrusters pointing downward in order to make it capable
of hovering, let alone flying. But it’s probably safe to assume we don’t want all the
thrusters pointing downwards, that would decrease the grip. We want to add downforce,
or lateral force to the car. So let’s pretend half of the thrusters are on the back of the
car to push it forward. How quickly do you think
we can get zero to 60? So we now we’d have about
1500 pounds of force pushing the car forward, we’d
accelerate at about .5 G’s. The stock Roadster can
accelerate at about 1.44 G’s to reach its zero to 60 of 1.9 seconds. So if we add these two
together, which we can do since the thrusters wouldn’t
change the grip on the tires, we come up with a theoretical zero to 60 of just 1.41 seconds. Oh my God! And now just for fun, what would it take to get that car down to below
a one second zero to 60? Well it would require
2.76 G’s of acceleration to get a .99 second zero to 60. This means the thrusters
have to push the car an additional 1.32 G’s more
than the motors and tires can, so that would require
3960 pounds of force. I really can’t imagine a
world where this will happen, but oh my God, I want that so bad! Okay, now of course I
literally made up numbers for thrust and weight here, but based on the numbers of the real Falcon Nine’s
nitrogen thrusters, it’s safe to think there’s
some real potential here. Based on some rough
estimates, it would require somewhere between a 13
gallon to a 30 gallon tank in order to hold enough compressed air to have any significant usage. But luckily that does coincide with Elon’s reply to me on Twitter asking how big the COPVs would need to be in order to have a substantial
impact on performance. His response would be that they replace the
back seats of the Roadster with the COPV tanks. So that sounds about right. So hold on, this is all actually
kind of coming together. There is some serious possibility here. I can’t believe it. But wait, I should totally believe it. I mean after all, I have played around with fire extinguisher powered hovercraft with my friend Amy Shira
Tietel from Vintage Space on my Facebook Watch show, Spacing Out! That was a ton of fun. So are we about to reach
new limits with cars? We have super cars. We have hypercars. Is this the start of a new generation of super-ultra-hyper cars? Maybe, and I couldn’t be more excited. So what do you think? Do you think Elon’s just
blowin’ a bunch of hot air? (chuckles)
Or should I say cold air? I personally really think this is actually going to be happening, and he tends to not joke around with too much with stuff like this. He really loves making
the ludicrous happen. So let me know your thoughts
in the comments below. I owe a huge thanks to
my Patreon Supporters for helping make this and other Everyday
Astronaut content possible. I owe a super special
thanks to those Patreons in our exclusive Discord channel, and our exclusive subreddit, for helping me script and research. If you wanna help contribute, please visit, thank you. I also owe a special thanks to whereisroadster on
Twitter, and Jonny Hyman for helping double checking my math. I’d hope we got it kind of right. Don’t forget to check out my Web Store for shirts, hats, mugs,
prints of rocket launches, and other original artwork, and lots of other fun stuff
at As always, all the music
in my videos is original. Feel free to check it out for free at Tell a friend. Thanks everybody, that’s
gonna do it for me. I’m Tim Dodd, the Everyday Astronaut, bringing space down to
Earth for everyday people. (“Jovian Moon Run” by Everyday Astronaut)

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Thrusters may work on the acceleration in the 40-80 speed range where the electric motor acceleration starts dropping off?

  2. Trump just announced the creation of a Space Force as a new branch of the military. Please do a video on what this will be.

  3. Think, that flying will be possible only when driving at certain minimum speed. Front-bottom thrusters lifts front of the Roadster to certain angle and then air going under car lifts entire body.

  4. I hate being that guy bringing videogames to the comment section, but when in GTA they added a turbine to thrust the ingame´s Tesla Roadster I laughed…..

  5. I think the "hopping' function is more likely a reference to how it will feel like it is glyding if yo go over a hill too fast similar to a rally car. Nice video though!

  6. this is all fine and dandy 0 to 60 in 1.9 or even 1.4 in fact 0 to 6o in less then 1 sec. has happened already without thrusters and 2 extra engines people are doing 0 to 300 in 4 or less sec. with 1 engine on slicks i dont see the big hype. and in half the price as the roadster

  7. Wow, cool video, thanks. I didn't know about this. Cold rokets makes sense on a car. Who says just wheels has to take power to the ground.

  8. ah no worrie about safety, here in Holland the police already drive through a supermarket with a motor to catch bad people so i would say that it is allowed somehow. They don't matter if they drive against a child or so. Nooooooooo.. So safety? nahhh doesn't matter man.

    Nah this is just a man not knowing what to do with the money, some good things will grow out of it, but believe me, also many bad things, i guess this is one of the bad things we never see back anymore.

  9. I'm still waiting to hear what the stunt for the BFR test will be. I'm hoping it's a plaid Roadster with a driver (or stunt mannequin) wearing the SpaceX suit that shoots out of the cargo bay and makes a soft landing with the thrusters.

  10. Haha Elon just said on the „joe rogan Interview“ that he is goin to crank it up to 10000 psi. I would say you have to redo your calculations? it was at 1hour and 9 minutes i belief.

  11. This was Awesome, the roadster is legendary, if i was a millionair and it came in blue, id buy it. I wonder if Elon would Make a Company and Develop Gundam incase we find some Rude dudes in the solar system

  12. Hi all. I am in the market for a daily driver. Something dependable that will get me to work and back. I'm considering the Tesla roadster with ten rockets. Will the rocket exhaust flames burn any pedestrians? Do you think it's a good choice for what I want?

  13. Since it already accelerates forward at about 1.5g, the return on any amount of downforce is roughly 1.5 times higher than pointing the thrusters laterally, assuming torque is no limit…AND that would help in turns also. So what makes the most sense to me is trusters either only on top, or on top and bottom, but not any thruster in fully lateral directions.

    If you want it really controllable in the air, which makes sense even for accidental jumps, I can imagine using variations in placement and direction of the thrusters, still facing generally up or down, to provide pitch, roll and yaw control so you don't land upside down or sideways. If you want really powerful ability to resist aero effects that could backflip or nosedive a jumping car at speed you need to match the top thusters with bottom thrusters far to the front and back for maximum torque and that means you may be getting to a point where the flying thing is within reach, especially if you then deliberately angle the car up a bit for aero lift. My speculation is that this is how they got there – to the point of thinking about flying cars I mean….5g-1g thrusters on both the top and the bottom, but none for lateral thrust makes the most sense and could achieve amazing things now that we are allowing ourselves to dream 😀 – one of the these advantages would be sub 1s to 100km/h even for 1 extra g of downforce if my in head math is right.

  14. The "Pods" that we are going to travel from A to B in these tunnels are simply going to be our cars. Imagine…New York to London in your own Tesla…

  15. Ok, now I'm impressed. Thrusters all around the car. Ive always thought of short vertical wings/ slats. Never thought of thrusters…

  16. This will probably happen and a Tesla will be far and away the fastest hypercar. I doubt Ferrari or Bugatti have a chance of catching up.  I bet we will see this in F1 racing!

  17. Its a brilliant idea till you figure how big the tank has to be to and you need to push that plus a motor and worst of all if you get in a car accident and that thing blows up directly behind your seat.

  18. Hahahaha.! Thunderfoot just eviscerated you. Your videos are sometimes good but please stop being such a fan of that fraud Elon Musk.

  19. This is impossible, compressed gas thrusters are utterly inefficient and high pressure gas tanks weigh a ton and are very dangerous, and they wuold be so heavy and so inefficient you would fly for 1 second at best, and compressing such amout of air will take several hours and a big chunk of the battery. And if the cylinders ever decide to blow up behind you… farewell curel world !
    And also there is another issue witth this idea, if you used it for acceleration (again, 1 second of thrust tops) you would destabilize the car behind you and potentially cause it to crash. and absolutely freeze the air cylinders.

  20. the lack of hands to facepalm… you are a huge marketing bubble. like in this pinocchio tale. not the nose thing, but the promissed fun-park that turned kids into donkeys. u are in 1st row, dude. go get ur live a meaning. never too late. or maybe when u are interested in techi-things go and get education in this field.

  21. 200+ kg of parasitic mass minimum for multi stage electric pumps and tanks.
    For the most inefficient thrust system, bottom of the barrel is Cold gas

  22. It is probably more safe to drive around with a basket full of dynamite than with for the purpose decently sized pressure tanks regarding the case of an accident.

  23. Hey, cool store, bought some grid fins. You should make some stickers in the style of "Ascent of Man", only extend it with SpaceX boosters!

  24. This is such a stupid idea it's just not going to work!
    This is just Elon Musk being stupid again like the ridiculous Hyperloop crap. Trust me that will never happen either!
    Please don't misunderstand my scepticism for "Elon Musk hate". I'm a qualified Engineer with a passion for astrophysics and Quantum mechanics. I love his vision but I think he's just surrounded by too many "yes men" (hence the hyperpoop situation)

  25. Sure that Elon will built it but I also think it's for track and fun. In what world would we see such a car on the road ?

  26. In 2007 XCOR had discussions with a flight test organization (sorry I can't recall the name) about using rocket motors for spin recovery. Their director of flight test spoke bitterly of friends who died when the spin recovery chute entangled with the tail and caused a fatal crash. It's still a reasonable idea, just underfunded at the time.

  27. Please oh PLEASE stop wearing this stupid retarded suit bro, it's one of the reason I dont even wanna watch your vids sometimes, knowing you make very good videos …

  28. dislike, clickbait, zero understanding of subject and 12 minutes of wet fantasies over one of the stupidest ideas from musk so far

  29. It's surprising how a guy pretending to bring science to everyday people actually completely forget to talk about science. And there is a reason for that, he is absolutely not a scientist, just a stupid actor working for Tesla and Space X. Interesting how not a single scientific argument came against thunderfoot video in the comments, but jokes. Your figures are completely goofy, how do you want a thruster of compressed air to have the same thrust than a rocket engine?

  30. Imagine being in a police chase and you turn on the boosters and jump over the spiked trap and dust them at 250mph. ? ? ? ? ?

  31. Could add to safety on the icy road, for stopping and turning, turning option would require awareness of its surroundings and safety protocol override?

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