Would The F9 Space Car Actually Work In Real Life?
F9 has an answer, but how realistic is it?
When Marie Curie boldly proclaimed: “I am among those who think science has great beauty,” she was obviously anticipating F9’s “Space Car”. Toward the end of the film, in a series renowned for its realism in toxic “family” devotion, Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej Parker (Ludacris) strap rocket engines onto a heavily modified Pontiac Fiero and crash it into a satellite before catching a ride back to Earth from the International Space Station.
In the wake of Elon Musk’s team strapping as many engines they can in as little time as possible to the spacecraft Starship, the average American is left pondering the inevitable: “Can I make a Space Car?”. F9 has an answer, but how realistic is it?
Well, there’s a lot to consider. First, there are G Forces or the acceleration of an object relative to Earth’s gravity. While walking normally is 1 G, and a hard slap on the back is 4.1 Gs, the Space Shuttle launch and its reentry is 3 Gs, which seem manageable for a high-end, hyper-performance vehicle… assuming that backslap happens only one time. In reality, those 4.1 Gs hit repeatedly. Imagine a Toyota Celica holding together over the force of a thousand heavy slaps on the back over and over again. But, if you instead consider a well-made, reinforced high-performance vehicle, it might all be possible... if you’re not a wuss.
Next question: Naturally it's about oxygen. Humans have to breathe. But that’s actually an easier problem to solve, especially considering how prolific oxygen bars are in the nightclub scene. A bigger issue is pressure. For reference the Earth PSI, or Pound-force per square inch, is generally 14.7 PSI. Humans love to relax but when it comes to the vacuum of space, a person needs some pressure. Make no mistake: No one is advocating homemade pressure suits… but if someone did make their own, they’d want to keep the pressure to at least 4.3 PSI. That’s the lowest level for a spacewalk. (The Space Center keeps pressure at a cool 14.71 PSI.)
But the REAL concern is akin to getting elected to public office or taking over a kingdom. Once you launch your supped up car into space… what then? Sure, in F9 Roman and Tej get around some launch issues by becoming a “payload” in the back of Cargo Plane that was then ejected into space. But once in orbit, they were completely at the mercy of rogue debris and space winds. However, as long as the Pontiac Fiero, or car of choice, is pointed in the right direction, or orbit, relative to the rotation of Earth, it follows that any average person with a little bit of fast and furious ingenuity, and some working knowledge of which direction the planet rotates, can drive a sick car into space.
Space is (apparently) the next Wild West. It’s time for the average, red-blooded, American to strap multiple rocket boosters to their Pontiac and claim some space. As the saying goes: “If Fast and the Furious can do it, so can you.”
So can you, America. So can you.