The madman bloody did it. Elon Musk actually fired a Tesla Roadster into space via the very first launch of his impressive Falcon Heavy rocket. Next stop, Mars, baby! Well, not quite.
Behind the wheel of the car is a suited-up dummy affectionately named Starman after the David Bowie song of the same name. His classic song, ‘Space Oddity‘, is also playing from the car during its long journey, not that you’d be able to hear it in the vacuum of space, but I digress.
The original plan was to get the Roadster close to Mars without actually colliding with the planet, entering into a “billion-year elliptic Mars orbit,” the YouTube live stream description says. But overnight, Musk tweeted that the trajectory of the spacecraft has changed and that it’s now going to overshoot Mars completely and head straight for the Asteroid Belt beyond it. Oh dear.
Third burn successful. Exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt. pic.twitter.com/bKhRN73WHF— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 7, 2018
But whether or not it makes it through the belt doesn’t actually matter, because according to Indiana University chemist, William Carroll, the Roadster is doomed either way due to its plastic and carbon-fibre body. “All of the organics will be subjected to degradation by the various kinds of radiation that you will run into there,” he told Live Science.
“Those organics, in that environment, I wouldn’t give them a year.”
Yep, space is cruel and unforgiving, folks, but it certainly doesn’t dampen the incredible achievement of flying a fucking Tesla beyond Mars. Even Musk himself can’t believe it.
“I think it looks so ridiculous and impossible. You can tell it’s real because it looks so fake, honestly,” he said after the launch. “It’s still tripping me out.” Dude, same.
The successful test of SpaceX‘s Falcon Heavy also means big things for space travel, particularly because its reusable rocket system makes getting shit into space much more affordable, which, of course, aligns with Musk’s ultimate goal of putting humans on Mars.
From here, he hopes other private space ventures will follow his lead. “Hey, we can do bigger and better,” he said. “We want a new space race.”
God speed, Starman. Watch out for those asteroids.
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