When Elon Musk successfully launched his personal Tesla Roadster into space on February 6, 2018, people were amazed. If people weren't impressed by his entrepreneurial acumen, then they were at least in awe of his commitment to being a crazy billionaire; the guy said he was going to shoot a car into space, and he did. But was he trying to make advancements in the name of private space travel, or did Elon Musk send a dead body into space? While you were wondering what it would be like to drive a car through space, Flat Earthers and conspiracy theorists everywhere were pondering a SpaceX Falcon Heavy Launch murder conspiracy along with the possibility the entire launch was a hoax.
Conspiracy theories about the SpaceX launch touch on everything from murder cover-ups to whether or not Elon Musk shot the whole launch in a “CGI studio” and live streamed it to the masses. If Elon Musk actually shot a car into space, and it did have the corpse of a dead man attached, does that mean we’re going to see a lot more dead bodies in space? Are billionaires going to start paying to shoot their victims into the vast expanse of nothing that surrounds the Earth to escape jail time?
If you were a billionaire who'd recently murdered someone, how would you get rid of the body? If you're Elon Musk, you strap that corpse to a Tesla and shoot into space. Or so says a growing number of conspiracy theorists online. According to the web, the idea to include a dummy wearing a space suit in the launch was a last minute thing, surprising everyone who was working on the launch.
The theory Musk got away with murder in the most elaborate way possible was floated by Redditor/u/halo3kings on r/showerthoughts, and it's taken hold. The Redditor said he was kidding, but you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube; his off the cuff theory has mutated into theories about how the corpse in the car is actually Musk who was murdered by his future self who replaced the present day Musk. It's all so obvious.
The people who have the biggest beef with Musk's claim he shot a car into outer space are the Flat Earth folks who have a dense web of beliefs that barely make sense. Some of them believe in space but don't believe we've been there, while others believe the Earth is surrounded by a dome. Both sects of Flat Earthers believe Musk made up the trip to space, and the first thing they point out is that everything looks like it was made with CGI.
Many Flat Earthers point out the flash as the payload was released into space looked like an accidental camera flash at a CGI studio. Musk didn't help dispel this claim when he said: “You can tell it’s real because it looks so fake. We’d have way better CGI if it was fake.”
First of all, there aren't any camera flashes happening in a CGI studio. In a studio that utilizes green screen - like one that would shoot a physical Tesla Roadster - the lighting would be flat, and there wouldn't be any flashes going off unless a 1920s newsman came to cover the story. Any flares would be added in post. If the entire thing were to be made in CGI, there probably wouldn't even be a studio; it would just be made with 3D models.
The "studio" Flat Earthers believe they saw was actually the payload fairing that housed the Roadster. It didn't appear in the original live stream, so it was edited into the video later to give the shot a more cinematic effect. It's a weird choice for sure, but it's not proof the whole thing was fake.
There's a separate wing of conspiracy theorists who believe the Falcon launch totally happened, and it coincided with a UFO checking out Earth. It's hard to see, but in the shot of the Roadster leaving the Earth's orbit, you can see something speeding towards the Earth. While some hopeful viewers thought it looked like a "trans-atmospheric skip vehicle," it was more than likely just space debris.
One theory being tossed around Twitter is that the lack of a rearview mirror on the Roadster Elon Musk recklessly flung into space is proof the space portion of the live feed was shot in a studio. Specifically, they believe that the mirror was removed so it wouldn't reflect the "fourth wall" of the studio.
Let's pretend that everything was made in a studio with CGI being used for space. It's not out of the question for the crew, equipment, and that tricky fourth wall to be scrubbed out later and replaced with the emptiness of space. In the above video, visual effects supervisors Ken Ralston and Stephen Rosenbaum explain how they did something similar, although much more complicated, in 1997's Contact. The SpaceX crew wouldn't need to remove the rear mirror to create this "fake" space, so the theory doesn't quite hold up.