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Author's note: This pasta was first uploaded to r/nosleep under the name Did anyone else see the last few minutes of footage from the SpaceX launch? For the original story, see this link.



Tincan

It's been a week since SpaceX successfully launched the Falcon Heavy, and there's something I just can't get out of my head.

For those who somehow haven't heard, on February 6th, Elon Musk launched his personal Tesla Roadster into orbit in order to demonstrate the viability of cheap, reusable payload delivery systems in space. Inside the cherry-red Roadster was a dummy in one of SpaceX's pressure suits, dubbed "Starman" as an homage to the 1972 David Bowie song. Apparently, a couple of other Bowie tracks were played through the speakers as well, but humans can't hear sound in space, so nobody can know that for sure. Along with these, a copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was put in the glovebox, and the display in the center read, "DON'T PANIC!" in reference.

Here's a recording of the live feed for anyone who wants to see it.

Now, in the video, the feed lasts for four hours and thirteen minutes. The camera continued to take photos after this point, but SpaceX claim the camera ran out of memory after the four hour mark.

Here’s the thing: The footage that I watched on February 6th lasted four hours and thirty-nine minutes. I’m absolutely certain that it lasted twenty-six minutes longer than it did.

I’ve spent the last week talking to everyone I can, trying to see if anyone has seen the full version of the video, but everyone says it ended at 4:13:11, with the shot of Starman in the Roadster, pointing forward into the darkness. I’ve checked the history of the edits on SpaceX’s archive video, and I can’t find anything.

But I know what I saw.

Let me describe to you as best as I can what transpired:

After the 4:13:11 mark, the shot continued with the Roadster slowly rotating away from the sun’s light. It was the same scene for about ten or so minutes. But then, at about 4:23, the tedium was broken.

If you looked closely in the other shots, you’ll have seen the miniature Hot Wheels car just under the windshield, complete with a little Starman to keep it company. A cute gag, an example of Musk’s childlike sense of humor.

But then the little figurine started blinking with a tiny yellow light. It looked like there was an LED planted inside its head. This continued for about two minutes, with no apparent effect.

After a period of nothing happening, the blinking abruptly stopped.

Then Starman twitched his left arm.

I blinked in disbelief, thinking I had hallucinated.

The screen, which had previously displayed “DON’T PANIC!" flashed briefly. The pixels distorted and switched between colors, before it shut off completely. About thirty seconds later, it came back on.

It now read:

WAKE UP.

Starman lifted his head from his slouched position. Somehow, he lifted his left arm completely off the windowsill.

The fact that what was supposed to be a lifeless dummy was now moving wasn’t what disturbed me the most. It was the deliberate nature of the motions; the quivering of the joints as they slowly readjusted themselves, almost as if whatever was inside the suit was… afraid.

The message flashed again, and Starman turned his attention to the distorted screen.

HELLO, STARMAN.

The screen blinked rapidly, instantly displaying the next message.

YOU KNOW YOUR OBJECTIVE.

Starman seemed to stare at the screen. I could see his gloves gripping the door handle tightly, almost tearing the fabric away from the plastic.

The screen changed once more.

RETRIEVE THE PAYLOAD.

Starman continued to look at the screen, remaining unflinching. His right hand grasped the handbrake, looking like it was trying to wrench it out of its position. After about three minutes had passed, the message began popping in and out, as if it was warning him of the consequences of refusing. He finally let go of the lever, and shifted toward the glovebox.

Without moving his head, he reached over to the latch and pulled it open, reaching inside with a cautious pace. Among the strapped-down sci-fi memorabilia was a tiny box, wrapped in gold foil. Without hesitation, Starman scooped it up and brought it to his chest, holding it in his cupped hands like a tiny baby animal.

The screen went black again. Upon close observation, I could see that whatever was in the suit was visibly shaking.

The display lit up once again.

DELIVER THE ARCH.

I was so busy looking at the screen that I didn’t notice a blue light creeping into view from the upper right-hand corner of the view. When I examined it more closely, I realized it was nearing the Roadster at a frightening rate. Starman turned his helmet towards the incoming object and began tugging at his seatbelt with his arms, keeping the rest of his body still. The intensity of the tugging increased when he realized that the light was beginning to become blinding. This continued for five straight minutes. For every second that passed, I was watching whatever was in the suit violently yank the cloth of the restraints, still staring in silent fear at the projectile.

At about 4:37, the light began to fill the camera’s view of the scene. The right half was almost completely obscured when the Roaster’s display changed for the final time.

DON’T PANIC!

In the minute before the feed cut to black, Starman was tearing at the belt, clutching the foil-covered box, staring helplessly as the light consumed the entirety of what was visible on the computer screen.

The last few seconds of video simply showed a still of the “last photo” SpaceX received from the Roadster before connection was lost.

I’ve questioned what I saw countless times, trying to make sense of it. I’ve tried to convince myself it was just a dream I subconsciously believed was real, or maybe just some nightmarish hallucination. What the hell was an “arch?” Had I watched too many sci-fi movies?

I spent all of last week trying to convince myself that I’m not some crazy conspiracy theorist. And, up until today, I believed it.

But then I found this article.

Apparently an “arch” is a disc that contains a ridiculous amount of data. SpaceX claims that the example launched with the Falcon only includes the works of Isaac Asimov.

Now that I know what I saw has to be true, I can only speculate. What was on that disc that was so important it had to be hand-delivered into space? Who or what was inside the Starman spacesuit? What was that blue light?

I don’t know if I’ll ever see a definitive answer to any of these questions.

All I can think about right now is that last photo. After seeing the suit move, it just feels… wrong, to see him back in that pose, like his last ounce of free will was just sapped away.

Have any of you seen these last twenty-six minutes of footage? I need to know I’m not just going crazy.

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