Perhaps Musk had a bit too much to drink.
“Rocket thrusters!” … is the sort of thing you’d here from the sidelines at a family gathering, when the kids are having fun and using their imagination to make the most of what would, for them, be an otherwise boring gathering of old people. It’d usually be accompanied by whooshing noises, and perhaps screaming, especially if the imaginary spacecraft are engaged in some kind of intergalactic dogfight.
It’s not the sort of thing you’d expect to hear from a grown man, whose intellectual prowess sees him sitting at the head of one of the worlds’ most valuable car companies.
And yet when it comes to Elon Musk and Tesla, we continue to be proven wrong. When we assumed Musk to be kidding when he talked about rocket thrusters at the unveiling of the sleek new Tesla Roadster, it turns out he wasn’t joking around. It really will have thrusters, and Musk even agreed to a no-backsies clause on Twitter.
It seems that the eventual production Roadster will be offered with a ‘SpaceX option package,’ which will see the installation of some 10 small rocket thrusters around the vehicle. According to Musk, “these rocket engines dramatically improve acceleration, top speed, braking, and cornering. Maybe they will even allow a Tesla to fly…”
We hope he’s kidding about the flying part. And we hope we’re right.
Rockets, traditionally, use rocket fuel. Fuel of any kind is an alien concept insofar as Tesla is concerned, but not to worry, as innovations from SpaceX means that the Roadsters thrusters will likely used compressed air, stored in a tank, and replenished on the move, so it’s all still zero-emissions.
Further, strategic placement of the 10 thrusters will (theoretically) improve acceleration and braking, and also improve directional agility, with thrusters engaging either in tandem with direction of travel, or in the opposite direction. It’s pretty interesting stuff in theory, but we’d like to see if it’s effective in reality.
The Tesla Roadster, when it was announced, would carry a sticker price of about US$200,000 (or $260k thereabouts). Some suggest that the addition of the ‘SpaceX option package’ could very well double that price, but considering the performance on offer, it might still be worth it.