Everything You Need to Know About SpaceX’s Secret Falcon Heavy Payload

Secret Payload

Last week, the world watched as SpaceX launched their Falcon Heavy rocket with a Tesla Roadster stowed aboard. However, the rocket also carried something else, and while SpaceX’s secret Falcon Heavy payload may not have generated the same headlines as the Roadster, it could have even bigger implications for humanity’s future in space.

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Inside of the Roadster, SpaceX hid an Arch (pronounced “ark”). The tiny, disc-shaped object is one of the longest-lasting storage devices ever built. It’s expected to withstand millions to billions of years in the harsh conditions of space (or potentially even on the surface of a cosmic object or distant planet).

The Arch isn’t just durable, though. It’s also able to store enormous quantities of data for extended periods of time. Each crystal disc, which looks like a throwback to the “mini-discs” of the early 2000s, can theoretically hold up to 360 terabytes of data. The longevity of the Arch is due to the technology used to inscribe the data and the medium: 5D optical storage in quartz.

Preserving Humanity

SpaceX’s secret Falcon Heavy payload is known as Arch 1.2, and it contains Issac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, a sci-fi series that discusses the preservation of humankind — a relevant topic.

Eventually, the disc’s developers at the Arch Mission Foundation plan to add to the collection to create what they’re calling the “Solar Library.” As co-founder Nova Spivack wrote in a post on Medium, “This is only the first step of an epic human project to curate, encode, and distribute our data across the solar system and beyond.”

Ultimately, the nonprofit group hopes their small quartz crystal discs could “preserve and disseminate humanity’s knowledge across time and space, for the benefit of future generations,” according to Spivack.

They already have plans to launch discs to support early colonists on Mars, and eventually, they hope to connect the Arch Libraries in an enormous, decentralized network that will allow for data sharing and storage throughout the solar system. This is certainly a moonshot, but if humans become a multi-planetary species, we’ll need such a system in place.

The post Everything You Need to Know About SpaceX’s Secret Falcon Heavy Payload appeared first on Futurism.


Recode Daily: Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s radical pay plan — and rocketship payload

Plus, Uber hires its first chief diversity officer, Stripe is giving up on bitcoin, and HomePod at last.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk may have the most radical pay plan in corporate history. Musk, who has agreed to stay on as chief executive for a decade, will be paid only if he reaches a series of jaw-dropping milestones based on the company’s market value and operations. Otherwise, he will be paid nothing. Meanwhile, Musk’s other company, SpaceX, is preparing for the imminent launch of its biggest rocket, the Falcon Heavy — its cross-promotional payload will include a cherry-red Roadster built by Tesla. [Andrew Ross Sorkin / The New York Times]

Twitter COO Anthony Noto is taking the job of CEO at finance startup SoFi, filling the spot vacated by Mike Cagney, who resigned after sexual harassment allegations. Noto was the most important full-time exec at Twitter; CEO Jack Dorsey, who also runs Square, hasn’t announced a replacement for Noto. Meanwhile Facebook is seeing a rare senior executive departure — CMO Gary Briggs is retiring; he wants to advise a few companies, sit on some boards and help the Democratic Party on the ramp-up to the U.S. midterm elections. [Kurt Wagner / Recode]

Uber has hired its first chief diversity and inclusion officer. Bo Young Lee will fill the role that was recommended by the Holder Report, which investigated the company’s toxic culture. It’s the third executive appointment under new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.[Johana Bhuiyan / Recode]

Stripe was ahead of the curve on bitcoin, but it’s giving up on it as a payment method. Four years ago, the online payments platform was the first to accept the wildly popular but volatile alternative currency; after a rise in transaction fees made a bitcoin transactions about as expensive as bank wires, Stripe concluded that bitcoin is meant to be more of an asset and less of a currency for daily payments. [Theodore Schleifer / Recode]

The media ecosystem is up for grabs right now: Netflix buys content from the studios but makes its own stuff, too. Older media companies are trying to compete by consolidating, new distributors like Verizon and AT&T and giant tech companies like Google, Amazon and Apple are all getting in on the action. Here’s a diagram of what the Big Media universe currently looks like. And if you like that chart, you’ll love this one, tracking the incredible 10-year rise of Netflix, from mailboxes to David Letterman.[Rani Molla and Peter Kafka / Recode]

HomePod, Apple’s late-to-the-party entrant into the smart-speaker market, finally has a shipping date, after its scheduled December launch was delayed. The $ 349 device is available for preorder on Friday, and will hit Apple Store shelves on Feb. 9.[Dieter Bohn / The Verge]

Recode Presents …

Code Media — Recode’s annual conference featuring the most interesting and influential people in media and technology — is coming up on Feb. 12 and 13 in Huntington Beach, Calif. Joining the already amazing lineup of speakers are four media entrepreneurs and executives with unique insight into the media landscape: Brit + Co CEO Brit Morin, theSkimm co-founders Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, and Hollywood Reporter part owner Janice Min. You can join us, too — click here for registration info.

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Elon Musk Loves the Idea of His Tesla Roadster Being the Falcon Heavy’s First Mars Payload

Launching a Roadster to Mars?

Elon Musk has once again taken to Twitter to excite and confuse space-enthusiasts and experts. Musk began by revealing details of the first Falcon Heavy launch, which is scheduled to take place next month, “from Apollo 11 pad at the Cape. Will have double thrust of next largest rocket.”

Soon after, Musk added that the Falcon Heavy’s “Payload will be my midnight cherry Tesla Roadster playing Space Oddity. Destination is Mars orbit.” For the uninitiated, “Space Oddity” is a classic song by the late David Bowie.

Musk has stated that there’s a non-zero chance of the Falcon Heavy exploding on its first flight. With that in mind, he’s publicly stated that he intended to stick the “silliest thing we can imagine” atop the craft ( and he did stick a secret wheel of cheese on Dragon’s first flight).


The internet wasn’t sure what to make of Musk’s tweet at first. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time in recent history he managed to get the media to cover something he’d intended as a joke. Though, this time around, several media outlets have asserted that SpaceX had confirmed the story.

However, a source familiar with the info was more hesitant in their endorsement when Futurism reached out for comment over the weekend, saying “the roadster payload is real.”

While it’s no surprise to see Musk talking up such a whimsical concept, attempting a stunt of that caliber would be something altogether different. The idea is an intriguing one — but we’ll believe it when we see it.

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