Can I drive Elon Musk's Tesla after it's been in space for 100 Years?

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13

We know that the the payload of the maiden Falcon Heavy flight will be... Elon Musks's Tesla Which will be placed in "Mars Orbit"

enter image description here

Assuming it is serviced and road ready when launched with the keys in the ignition...

100 Years later, someone plucks it out of orbit and lands it safely on a planet (Earth?), would it still be road ready? What if any service or repairs would likely be required to drive it?

Would 10,000 years or a billion years make a significant difference it is road readyness?

James Jenkins

Posted 2018-01-09T11:23:13.843

Reputation: 10 973

30The battery will be empty. But I hesitate if this is still a space exploration question.gerrit 2018-01-09T11:35:50.823

24@gerrit think about all those bearings, plastics and other items subject to long term vacuum, heat and thaw cycles as it rotates with different sun exposures. Micrometers striking safety glass. This question is really about what happens when you subject machinery designed for earth to raw space.James Jenkins 2018-01-09T11:46:08.293

1

Related: https://space.stackexchange.com/q/2095/33

gerrit 2018-01-09T11:59:57.377

3The battery will not only be empty, it will be dead due to its high age.Uwe 2018-01-09T12:01:21.210

22@JamesJenkins micrometeors, not micrometers, unless someone launched a machine shop into orbit by mistake.Skyler 2018-01-09T14:40:31.630

30I'll bet money you can't even drive it now. They have likely drained fluids, fixed movable parts, and taken other measures to make the payload entirely inert. Possibly removed the batteries, too.Wayne Conrad 2018-01-09T14:57:10.027

5This is on topic here. It is about an object that humans will have sent in to space, and about it's reliability over time.PearsonArtPhoto 2018-01-09T14:57:54.803

1@WayneConrad See my answer:-) I came to the same conclusion myself.PearsonArtPhoto 2018-01-09T14:58:16.943

38"And how rich do you want to be someday?" "I want to launch my car into space."corsiKa 2018-01-09T15:26:30.090

@WayneConrad If you remove the batteries from a Tesla, half the car is missing.Mast 2018-01-09T18:01:20.580

Regarding the batteries, they will, certainly, just remove them before doing this (awesome) stunt. Batteries are basically dangerous. Say you were sending a conventional car in this way. Of course, obviously, you'd totally remove and throw away the fuel tank and all the fuel-related lines. It's a certainty they'll completely remove the batteries. (Or just replace them with fake blanks, or the like.) As everyone else has said, of course they'll remove all other fluids systems, and everything (suspension, doors - every moving part) will just be welded solid into one huge chunk.Fattie 2018-01-09T21:35:22.210

9"would it still be road ready" - where we're going, we don't have/need roads!Andrew Grimm 2018-01-10T04:11:56.840

2I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about car maintenance, not space exploration. It might be on-topic at [mechanics.se].David Richerby 2018-01-10T12:42:52.730

If the key is in the ignition, something's already broken! (for those who don't know, Tesla keys are purely RF-wireless communicators)Carl Witthoft 2018-01-10T15:19:31.257

6@DavidRicherby I think this is more about the effects and environmental concerns of long-term space travel on traditionally terrestrial machinery, and not so much about the vehicle itself. If so, I could see the same question being posed w/r/t e.g. large hydraulic machinery that we might consider sending on a slow boat to wherever our next extraterrestrial colony is going to be constructed. (...as James Jenkins said)A C 2018-01-10T19:09:04.510

Physical issues aside, in 100 years I can't imagine it being legal for a human being to drive on the open roads, and I can't imagine the autonomous system still working having missed 100 years of software updates.Lee Daniel Crocker 2018-01-10T19:19:35.497

I think this question is Too Broad. Open ended about dozens and dozens of potential problems one might run into, so it's a list question. It also seems like this requires more expertise in electric automobiles than it does in space exploration.jpmc26 2018-01-10T23:28:26.170

2I don't think this is an off-topic question. I, as a mechanic, have no idea what the conditions of space will do to a vehicle, and I doubt any at the Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair exchange would know either.B.fox 2018-01-13T23:34:56.620

Something tells me that that car will not remain in space for 100 years...it will be either returned to Earth or put in a museum on Mars.Chris B. Behrens 2018-02-23T21:30:56.157

Answers

84

Making a car run when it's been stored on Earth for 10 years can be a challenge. Storing it in space makes things worse.

All lubricants will have evaporated. Cold welding is a possibility. The thermal environment is a variable. If the car + payload adapter tumble, the car will spend time in the shadow of the adapter, and you get thermal cycling which will eventually break up the electronics. The Roadster has a glued chassis, the glue bonds may fail at those low temperatures. The battery will be dead. Rubber (tires, seals) will degrade (it'll do that on Earth in 100 years, let alone in space). If the cooling system hasn't been drained prior to launch, the coolant will freeze. Depending on coolant type, the coolant may expand and rupture piping, and distort everything around the piping (batteries, power electronics). Radiation will degrade the electronics. The car could take micrometeoroid damage too, but at least the orbit it's in won't be as dirty as LEO.

Getting the car to run again will require a full restoration: it has to be stripped to bare metal, and every component tested. Expect to replace lots of moving parts, plus all the electronics and the battery.

Hobbes

Posted 2018-01-09T11:23:13.843

Reputation: 63 604

8Ionizing radiation, exposure to particle impacts...DevSolar 2018-01-09T13:24:49.313

16Rubber degradation happens on Earth due to exposure to oxygen, ozone, and UV. If the car is in the vacuum of space (and protected from direct solar radiation) it will not suffer from these effects. Ionizing radiation would, however, still contribute to degradation of polymer materials.J... 2018-01-09T13:58:11.873

13So... no, then.MackTuesday 2018-01-09T17:06:34.543

1Rubber to be used in a car is not made for a vacuum, it may degrade by outgasing too.Uwe 2018-01-09T21:10:01.830

6Coolant? It's an electric car. Wouldn't cooling systems for the motors, batteries and electronics just use air (fans, ducts)?Anthony X 2018-01-10T01:30:43.953

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@AnthonyX Any electric system of significant power needs significant cooling. Tesla's cooling system does use liquid.

Danila Smirnov 2018-01-10T04:15:54.863

1Interesting... , to prevent most of the evaporation and the cold-welding: Could one not have a light-weight (compared to the Tesla proper) hull around it, essentially a heavy-duty, shaped balloon, or a carbon fiber box, which stays pressurized with Helium or Nitrogen for 100 years? I assume it would need to have a self-healing double-skin or similar to deal with damage from small meteorites over time. (Of course it's not a trivial task to keep a car roadworthy for 100 years in any environment, but that's not a space question.)Peter A. Schneider 2018-01-10T11:00:20.240

1I have to imagine Musk is planning to attach a lot of sensors to the car to send back data on the status of the car as it flies through space... there are a ton of products and materials not normally sent to space; we could learn a lot about how they (and how a car in general) behave this way.TylerH 2018-01-11T22:33:08.260

@AnthonyX Many (perhaps all) of the various model Tesla motors, batteries and motor controllers use liquid cooling loops to keep things compact. The liquid is air cooled.KalleMP 2018-01-12T05:36:07.167

@AnthonyX Even some top-end consumer graphics cards in PCs need liquid cooling.Alan B 2018-01-12T15:25:55.840

@TylerH: Nothing I've seen indicates they'll do that. It'd take a lot of additional engineering to install sensors, a communications system, a movable dish, power supply etc. etc. And changes in material properties are difficult to detect without mechanical components that can try and bend a sample of the material, etc. This is a stunt, not an experiment in the vein of LDEF.Hobbes 2018-01-12T15:32:21.153

@PeterA.Schneider I expect it will be securely mounted in the payload capsule (so it can't rattle around). It would require some complex engineering to detach it, open the capsule, and eject it naked into space, however cool that might be.Keith McClary 2018-02-06T05:35:33.867

At that point it's worth asking if it's a Ship (car?) of Theseus!MyPreciousss 2018-02-07T17:44:34.787

Just in: Scientists believe that radiation will tear the car into pieces within a year. without any specific sources, found on http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2018/02/08/elon-musk-posts-final-photo-tesla-roadster-headed-to-asteroid-belt.html

derwodamaso 2018-02-08T14:12:23.283

27

Let's look at some of the biggest stressors in the Tesla-Probe's lifetime-

Launch- This will be a very stressful time. The car will be subject to around 3g for a few minutes, in a direction that it isn't accustomed to having any kind of force. Luckily the unofficial side-view of the Roadster shows that it is almost certainly mounted by the frame of the car, not the tires. It should be able to better hold up in that configuration. It does seem quite likely, however, that there was some "damage" to get it mounted there, and taking it off, even today on Earth, would likely significantly affect it's impact.

Also, it seems highly likely that they did testing to ensure that the Roaster won't come apart on launch. The last thing that SpaceX would want is to have their publicity stunt turn sour as it caused the failure of the Falcon Heavy. They must have done at least basic testing, vibration, thermal, and even shock testing, to ensure it won't break apart. It is entirely possibly that there were some parts that were welded together to keep it together, such as the wheels. These would have to be undone to drive it again.

enter image description here

Thermal- The thermal environment will actually be fairly benign. It will be warmer then on Earth, but not subject to the sudden changes in sunlight that, say, a LEO satellite will face. There will be some tumbling, so there will be some variation in temperature. I don't think this will be a major concern. It is quite likely, however, that the whole "probe" will at some point in time be subject to high temperatures, in the vicinity of 40-50 C. This could cause battery lifetime issues.

Vacuum- As has been noted by others, any exposed liquid will be evaporated, and cold welding is likely. I personally suspect they will have removed any exposed liquids prior to launch, to reduce the likelihood of incident. The seats are particularly likely to have issues being in a vacuum. They will outgas, and probably not be recognizable as the seats that they are.

Time- The batteries will almost certainly be completely depleted and would need to be completely replaced.

Micrometeorites/ etc- Not likely to be much of an issue, but there will likely be a few dents.

Sun Exposure- The color will probably be off, and again, more damage to the wheels.

Finding it- It will likely be very difficult to find it in 100 years. We have only found 90% of objects 1 km in size. Granted we should know a rough trajectory, but just to give you a comparable task, we don't know that well where all of the Apollo hardware is. For instance, there is the "Search for Snoopy", trying to find where Apollo 10's LEM is now. We will only be able to track the Roadster Probe when it passes close to Earth, which won't be that often.

Bottom line, I rather suspect that this is a fairly heavily modified Tesla Roadster to get it to work. Glass and liquids might have been removed, items have probably been welded together for improved stability, all of which would make it complex to drive even if it was taken off the rocket today, let alone in 100 years. But sure, if you spend the time, you could probably drive it, but it would involve a lot of work and new parts.

PearsonArtPhoto

Posted 2018-01-09T11:23:13.843

Reputation: 67 296

1

Notice the sideview mirror on the visible side and the sun visor are still in the car. I have some experience with rough rides those are two points that are first to have issues. I wonder if there have been any modifications to car in the image.

James Jenkins 2018-01-09T15:52:00.677

They still could have been reinforced in a way that doesn't easily show. The visor is interesting... I can't imagine that many modifications could have been done since it was encapsulated, but maybe they did a vibration test with it on the payload adapter, and removed stuff? Could be between the unofficial and the official pictures...PearsonArtPhoto 2018-01-09T16:15:32.360

I do not think that acceleration at 3g can be an issue. Any car is supposed to withstand higher decelerations when crashed or hit, and not fall apart or leak dangerous substances. Racing cars may experience accelerations in any direction, caused by acceleration itself, rapid change of direction, braking, road condtions, etc. I suppose that the roadster is possibly not a standard edition, and has some tuning for that.TimSparrow 2018-01-09T17:21:41.690

@TimSparrow While that is true, they do it laterally, and they do it with some damage. Also they don't do it with any kind of sustained movement. Up is not usually a direction that cars are built to take high stress (Although thinking about it, I suppose they could just add in some extra weight equal to twice the base weight and see if it would hold together). It's already known that this is Elon Musk's custom cherry red Roadster, so not standard, but... I strongly suspect they did some work to make it ready to launch.PearsonArtPhoto 2018-01-09T17:31:42.947

Hopefully there will be at least some sort of signal for telemetry (a la Sputnik) to address the last of the challenges you mentioned. It wouldn't be expensive to add (although if the lifetime requirement is 100 years, it might), and it would make the joke last longer.C8H10N4O2 2018-01-11T15:14:06.150

They will have telemetry on the second stage, but that will run out after a few hours. It should be enough to get a pretty good guess at it's orbit, but even small differences can make a much larger difference over time.PearsonArtPhoto 2018-01-11T15:22:25.870

I am disappointed they didn't mount solar panels to keep its battery charged. They also could have easily mounted a transmitter radio. (It already has an onmi-receiver they could easily wire up a stupid control board to to tell it when to transmit).Joshua 2018-01-11T16:11:04.793

@Joshua It's really not as easy as just slapping a solar panel on it, and a transmitter. There is a cost to making it work, and it would detract from the aesthetics that it is trying to achieve. Just launching the car in to space is relatively inexpensive, less then $1 million. If you start adding stuff like solar panels, radiation resistant transmitters, antennas, mounting all of that, and testing it to make sure it won't break, the cost goes up quite a bit.PearsonArtPhoto 2018-01-12T12:51:27.477

13

Would you be able to just jump in the car and drive it? No. Would you be able to get it roadworthy again with a little work? Maybe.

The state of the car itself will come down to how well protected it is in the capsule, it's going to experience some pretty extreme fluctuations in temperature which will not be kind to electronics that aren't designed for those sorts of conditions and the radiation levels it will pass through could do nasty things to the same components unless the capsule is providing some level of protection but even assuming that it's adequately shielded from any environmental concerns that would cause it to deteriorate such as radiation, space debris etc. then you'd still face most of the same challenges as any other attempt to park a car up for ten years:

  1. Flat tires - while you won't really have a problem of flat spots forming on the contact patch (because the car will be in microgravity) you'll still have the problem of the air used in the inflation escaping naturally over time (no tire/wheel is 100% airtight) so you'll have to reinflate them before you go anywhere. The rubber of the tires is also likely to degrade significantly over that length of time, maybe not to the point where you couldn't move it around but I certainly wouldn't want to be doing long distances or high speeds on them.

  2. Batteries - All batteries lose charge over time, and in 100 years the car's main drive batteries, any ancillary batteries and probably even the battery in the key will likely be either flat or in a really low state of charge. While it might have enough juice to start and run I highly doubt it and it certainly won't be going very far. Depending on the battery chemistry spending a large amount of time in the cold can actually do good things to preserve the condition of the batteries but cycling back up to hot and back down to cold won't do them any favors.

  3. Perished rubber - while it won't have as many engine-critical seals as a car with a conventional ICE there will still be things like shock absorber seals etc that will perish over time (the large temperature variations will not be kind to them!)

motosubatsu

Posted 2018-01-09T11:23:13.843

Reputation: 325

7What capsule? I wouldn't think they'll leave the fairings on beyond the atmosphere.Joey 2018-01-09T13:08:02.000

1@Joey I'd never really considered they would send the car through space bereft of any form of container.. although it's certainly possible I suppose (not to mention it's an amusing mental image!) If that were the case it would be utterly wrecked by 100 years exposure to micro meteorites and other debris. Plus the near-vacuum of space will probably evaporate off all the lubrication from any exposed suspension/steering joints. Basically it will be junk after 100 years.motosubatsu 2018-01-09T13:14:14.877

There's no sign of a container. I'm sure the fairing will come off, so it's really just going to be floating in there, albeit with the base included. It may or may not still be attached to the second stage too.PearsonArtPhoto 2018-01-09T14:06:15.780

@PearsonArtPhoto which makes sense really.. after all the car isn't intended to do anything once it's up there so there really isn't any point in spending the money/weight protecting it.motosubatsu 2018-01-09T14:07:32.790

"it would be utterly wrecked by 100 years exposure to micro meteorites and other debris" ? after only 100 years, it's very unlikely anything at all will have hit it - right?Fattie 2018-01-09T21:39:49.267

7

In addition to all the structural and electrical perspectives, there is also the possiblity of the firmware in the ECUs being corrupted due to cosmic rays. The automobile is definitely certified for errr.. to be used on earth and not-space-hardened memory will not survive space.

The car is going nowhere when the the mechanics and electrics are ready and there is a ECU checksum error :)

A Father

Posted 2018-01-09T11:23:13.843

Reputation: 71

I've never heard of cosmic rays flipping bits in ROM but I can't discount the possibility.Joshua 2018-01-11T16:12:39.030

it can very much happen. [link]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_hardening

A Father 2018-01-12T03:50:00.743

Well that link says EEPROM; which might as well be good enough. I can't imagine a car being made with true ROM in this century.Joshua 2018-01-12T05:19:31.017

6

Nope.

Silicon has a mortal enemy: radiation.
Space has a lot of radiation, including charged nuclear particles coming off the sun.

The computers, motor controllers, heads-up display, autopilot, and 1000 other important sub-systems in the car are driven by silicon.

While it might be a very good museum piece in 100 years, it is profoundly unlikely to ever drive again. .... assuming it doesn't blow up on launch.

After 100 years in space, the silicon based technology, not wrapped in very high atomic number materials, are going to be dead.

Polymers (think plastic cladding on wires) has "plasticizers", which make it elastic instead of brittle. Those are going to evaporate. Nothing made of plastic is going to be able to take tiny shocks after 100 years.

Update:

Chemical bonds are on the scale of a few electron volts (Chemistry). The solar wind's particles are on the order of keV, or about 1000x more powerful than the bonds (wikipedia- solar wind). Think about this like putting the device at the end of a kilovolt particle accelerator and ask about EMI/RFI consequences. In terms of particle interactions, not all materials are created equal, which drove the idea of "barns", particle capture cross-section, and thermal-neutron producing moderators (like carbon). (wikipedia - neutron capture) (wikipedia - thermal moderator)

I had a buddy who made dna-scale precious metal bar-codes by putting silicon at the working end of a cyclotron, blowing holes through it, then depositing alternating layers of metals. High velocity protons can blow holes in silicon.

Another buddy of mine got his work on the space station when he vapor-deposited tungsten on carbon fiber for super-light radiation protection hardware. What he described looks like this. Tungsten and other high-Z materials are used to shield electronics from total radiation dose.

Here are NASA links on the topic:

Here is an article saying how bipolar FETs die super early at super low doses of radiation. http://www.spacedaily.com/news/radiation-98a.html

Here is another, about power-down of satellites during solar storms because Van Allen belts accelerate charged particles. http://www.spacedaily.com/news/radiation-98d.html

Update2:
Thanks James for the related answer on plasticizers evaporating. (link)

EngrStudent

Posted 2018-01-09T11:23:13.843

Reputation: 171

This seems like a good answer. But you don't have high rep here or related science sites. Can you add some references supporting your claims?James Jenkins 2018-01-11T16:51:08.800

1

Related Does plastic evaporate in space?

James Jenkins 2018-01-11T19:11:53.067

@JamesJenkins - "plastic" evaporates on earth. Things that evaporate in air, can also evaporate in a vacuum. Plastic is a soup. Think about a rubber tire. It is heterogenous. plasticizers

EngrStudent 2018-01-11T19:34:00.780

Satellites are wrapped in metal foil for thermal insulation, not radiation.Hobbes 2018-01-11T19:34:20.813

@Hobbes - yup. But look at the insides. There is internal protection that is also metal, but different than the thermal stuff.EngrStudent 2018-01-11T20:34:17.753

-4

Elon Musk is a man of his word. Mea Culpa:

FAA Launch License Including Payload

It would not survive launch. Upon orbit insertion, it would be a jumble of loosely assembled broken parts. Things would go downhill from there. If they are saying that they will do this, it is just a publicity stunt. Or maybe not a stunt, so much as "earned publicity" since they haven't actually done anything yet.

In order to substantiate this assessment, I spoke with two experts in the field of spacecraft design and launch. One is a Spacecraft System Engineer with multi-mission experience (PHD, MIT), the other is an Mechanical Engineer with experience designing spacecraft instruments.

Both had seen the press releases and pictures and both were incredulous. They expressed concern that during the launch phase the car would not be able to withstand the mechanical forces, particularly the vibration, and would come apart, endangering the launch vehicle and causing catastrophic failure.

The wheels in particular were called out as one egregiously dangerous example. In the pictures of the mounting, the wheels are neither supported nor constrained. They seem to be hanging freely by their suspension. During launch the wheels will be severely vibrated and would bounce up and down rapidly, stressing the suspension. The chances are good that the suspension will fail and the wheels would be set free to bounce around in the fairing like loose cannons.

Articles on this subject note that the FAA requires that a "non-traditional" payload undergo a review to make sure launching the payload “does not jeopardize public health and safety, safety of property, U.S. national security or foreign policy interests, or international obligations of the United States...” including the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

The results of such a review are made public by the FAA (e.g., Moon Express Payload Determination). There is no news yet of such a review determination having been made for the Tesla payload.

That60sKid

Posted 2018-01-09T11:23:13.843

Reputation: 401

5Why would it not survive launch?James Jenkins 2018-01-09T14:03:26.873

14Note sure why you think this - objects and people get launched into space all the time without becoming a "jumble of loosely assembled broken parts", G-forces during launch are only about 3G or so.motosubatsu 2018-01-09T14:09:13.830

Launch is probably the most severe physical stress on a spacecraft in its entire life-cycle. The rapid acceleration, vibration, and acoustic energy it is subject to is extraordinarily punishing. Take, for instance, acoustic energy. The sound waves inside the housing are tremendous - the glass would be vibrated by the sound blast and would probably be cracked if not shattered. aThat60sKid 2018-01-09T14:10:54.700

9rapid acceleration and intense vibration are specifically things that cars (such as the tesla) are designed to cope with, glass cracking is certainly a possibility (particularly on side windows which aren't as strong as say the windscreen) but I think it's a stretch to suggest it will result in the aforementioned "jumble". If the Falcon heavy can't (in normal operation) launch something relatively robust like a car then frankly they have some really big problems at SpaceX!motosubatsu 2018-01-09T14:19:31.403

4While this is a good point, it can be tested for on the ground. If it broke up, it would cause issues for the rocket. I have to imagine they tested it.PearsonArtPhoto 2018-01-09T14:20:22.210

Cars are not designed for the rapid acceleration that is experienced in a launch and they are designed for a relatively stable, constant 1 G down force. Any cantilevered assembly that works well in that environment would become a rapidly vibrating "spring board" that would rip free of its support and then start to fling around and do further damage. Believe me, this structure would become a complete mess. It would probably destroy the housing and cause a total launch failure.That60sKid 2018-01-09T14:53:45.163

1@That60sKid My thoughts exactly, which is why the more I think about it, the more likely that some serious modification has to have been done to prevent said total launch failure from happening.PearsonArtPhoto 2018-01-09T14:59:49.070

@That60sKid: Cars of this decade are designed for and tested by crash tests. To pass a crash test sucessfully, a car must be able to withstand a lot more than 1 G only. A full brake application will be more than 1 G too. Driving a rough road will cause a lot of vibrations too.Uwe 2018-01-09T15:03:26.893

5A tesla roadster is designed to accelerate at 1.44G during normal operation on the road, granted that during launch you'll be seeing more like 3-4G but the G-values the car generates itself will be nowhere near what the structure of the car can actually take (Crash safety regs will see to that if nothing else) and are more a function of the grip the tires can provide than a structural limit - it's not quite comparing apples with apples but a top fuel dragster will produce acceleration of over 5G and they aren't going to be that much stronger than a crash-tested consumer car like a Tesla.motosubatsu 2018-01-09T15:36:35.633

1As for vibrations that's something that launch vehicle designers take great care to limit on the payload because otherwise things satellites and other spacecraft would get trashed (as would the launch vehicle itself - see the pogo oscillation problems on Apollo 8) and cars are intensively designed and tested for vibrations far exceeding what you would see in normal road use at facilities like MIRA so there might be some damage from vibrations but I highly doubt it will disintegrate like you think.motosubatsu 2018-01-09T15:36:39.303

RE: As for vibrations that's something that launch vehicle designers take great care to limit on the payload Motosubatsu, I have been involved with several deep space / interplanetary missions and have sat through design reviews and presentations during launch vehicle selection as well as mechanical engineering reviews of the various spacecraft components and assemblies. Launch vehicles do not mollycoddle the payload - they can't. The basic physics of launching a payload do not allow for it. It is up to the payload designers to understand the launch environment and build to it.That60sKid 2018-01-10T00:30:35.583

3Cars are designed to withstand years of regular vibrations (uneven road surfaces). They can also withstand significant G-forces: in a corner, most of the weight will be on the outer wheels. A car must be strong enough to withstand mistreatment, including jumps. For the G limits of a car, check out old Dukes of Hazard episodes: those giant jumps done by the General Lee usually ended up with a bent car (and the editing of that show was sloppy enough that you'd occasionally see that happen) but the car wouldn't disintegrate.Hobbes 2018-01-10T19:54:01.793

another data point: cars are built to withstand torsion stresses (where one axle is twisted relative to the other). This rigidity is important to get decent handling in corners, a non-rigid car has unpredictable steering. These days, car frames flex 1 degree when 5 to 20 kN is applied to one wheel. During launch, the load arms are much shorter (car is supported in the 4 corners of the floorpan), so loads will be less than that and the only deformation caused by the loads will be in the elastic range.Hobbes 2018-01-11T07:11:30.363

1Anyone who thinks a car can't handle 6G jolts has never faced the potholes in my neighborhood.Russell Borogove 2018-01-11T08:04:50.303