The sleek silver lines of "official truck of Mars" from Tesla, led by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, look like they're straight out of science fiction.
The Tesla and SpaceX founder unveiled his new "Cybertruck" Thursday (Nov. 21) in a event webcast from SpaceX's rocket factory, citing influences from James Bond's "The Spy Who Loved Me" and saying on Twitter that the pressurized version could roll on the Red Planet someday. Even the stainless steel is the same stuff Musk is using in Starship, he said during the event.
But there's another off-planet influence that has a close appearance to the Cybertruck.
Video: Watch Elon Musk Unveil the Electric Cybertruck
Photos: SpaceX's Starman Rides a Tesla Roadster Across Space
That's none other than the flying vehicles of "Blade Runner" (1982) and its sequel, "Blade Runner 2049" (2017), two movies that included space cyborgs in their eclectic cast of characters. Musk has called his vehicle the "Blade Runner truck" on several occasions, according to Forbes.
The Spinner – the flying car design seen in these films, mostly piloted by Los Angeles police officers – are silver machines with blunt angles that can hover and take off vertically like an F-35 fighter jet. Funny enough, Musk's release date of Nov. 21 nicely coincides with the fictional events of the 1982 movie's plot, which are set in November 2019.
The Spinner was so influential that its design influenced cars visible in "Back to the Future II", multiple "Star Wars" prequel films and "The Fifth Element", according to the Blade Runner wiki fan site.
You can order a Cybertruck now, but the electric vehicle won't be available until late 2021.
This isn't the first time Musk has turned to science fiction to help guide the development of products at his companies.
SpaceX's Falcon rocket family, the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, were named after the iconic Millennium Falcon from the "Star Wars" films. The Dragon spacecraft was named after Puff the Magic Dragon (yes, that tilts a bit more toward fantasy) and the offshore droneship landing platforms used by SpaceX are named after the sentient ships in "The Culture" science fiction novels by Iain M. Banks.
- SpaceX's Starman and Elon Musk's Tesla Have Made a Lap Around the Sun
- 'Starman' Aboard: Hot Wheels Toy Features SpaceX Spacesuited Driver
- SpaceX's 'Starman' and Its Tesla Roadster Are Now Beyond Mars
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Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace