Local woman, Musk interact on social media

BROWNSVILLE — A local woman who aspires to one day work at SpaceX was elated last year when Elon Musk replied to one of her tweets.

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo, 24, sent the social media message to Musk in June 2017 to ask if she could make a suggestion on what the payload on the Falcon Heavy rocket, which blasted off into history and space yesterday, would take into Mars’ orbit.

Musk tweeted her back: “Suggestions Welcome!”

“Elon, I vote for a Tesla Model S with a Selfie Cam & a silly photo of me,” Arevalo said in a Twitter post to the SpaceX CEO.

To her surprise, and to the enjoyment of numerous people who suggested Musk send a Tesla into space, the SpaceX CEO complied.

During a live stream video of the launch Tuesday, a midnight cherry red Tesla Roadster could be seen inside the Falcon Heavy rocket, complete with a Starman mannequin and a dashboard message saying “Don’t Panic,” being launched into space with a one-way ticket to a billion-year orbit around the planet Mars. David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” was set to play inside the electric vehicle.

In a press kit, SpaceX said typically demonstration missions carry steel or concrete blocks as simulators for payloads, “but SpaceX decided it would be more worthwhile to launch something fun and without irreplaceable sentimental value: a red Roadster for the red planet.”

While Arevalo may not have convinced Musk to send a silly photo of her to orbit Mars in perpetuity, Musk and the SpaceX team successfully launched the red Roadster to the red planet along with the Falcon Heavy rocket, the most powerful operational rocket on the planet — by a factor of two.

Arevalo said she got the idea to tweet her suggestion to Musk after reading an article about how Musk was trying to figure out the silliest thing to send into space.

“So then I got the idea to edit the photograph and put the car there with the rocket and send it to him, and he thought it was cool,” Arevalo said.

On Twitter, when a user likes a tweet, they can click a little heart button, which Musk did on Arevalo’s tweet.

Arevalo’s aspirations, however, extend far beyond the 280 characters allowed in a single tweet.

One day, she wants to work at SpaceX’s Brownsville spaceport, which is under construction at Boca Chica Beach.

In August, Arevalo said she will start studying computer science at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

“I did graduate, but as a dentist assistant. I didn’t really like it,” Arevalo said.

Instead, she followed her heart. Her passion always has been space and astronomy.

“I feel the more we learn about the universe, the more we understand who we are here,” Arevalo said.

“I feel like since other planets don’t have life, it would be cool if humans could expand into the universe.”

That is a sentiment Musk shares, having said publicly he hopes to send people to Mars one day in hopes of being able to colonize the red planet.

When asked what Arevalo would like to say to Musk if she ever had the chance to meet him, she said she would tell him that he is a true inspiration, and also thank him for welcoming and listening to his fans’ silly suggestions on Twitter.

“I feel really happy to be a small part of this historical moment,” Arevalo said.