Elon Musk launched a car into space the other day.
On February 6, 2018, SpaceX successfully launched their Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket we’ve seen since NASA’s Saturn V. Its payload, curiously enough, was a Tesla Roadster, complete with a “Starman” mannequin astronaut at the wheel.
The mannequin is wearing an actual SpaceX crew spacesuit, by the way.
It also won’t be coming back. Musk shared a final image of the space car and its driver, seen above, on his Instagram account yesterday, writing “Last pic of Starman in Roadster enroute to Mars orbit and then the Asteroid Belt.” Bon voyage, I guess.
The most exciting part of the launch test, if you ask me, was when those two reusable boosters returned to earth and landed together. It’s like something out of a science fiction movie (happens at about 5:57 in the above video).
Unfortunately, it turns out the third (middle) booster didn’t quite make it. That one landed in the Atlantic Ocean, about 328 feet away from its drone ship target.
If you missed it, the entire event is right here and worth a watch.
Space Devours All Things
View from SpaceX Launch Control. Apparently, there is a car in orbit around Earth. pic.twitter.com/QljN2VnL1O
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 6, 2018
Well, let’s close this post out with the sad news.
According to Live Science, the midnight cherry Tesla Roadster pictured above is probably going to have a bad time in space. For one, it might fly too close to the Red Planet and end its journey right there on the surface – in many, many tiny pieces. But even if everything goes to plan, and the Tesla finds itself navigating the vacuum of space for a billion years, it will ultimately meet the same fate as every other spacefaring object.
Not only will the sportscar be brutalized by micrometeorites, over time (and perhaps quite quickly) cosmic radiation will eat it away. The roadster’s organic material – such as its leather seats, rubber tires, and anything plastic – will ultimately “discolor, flake, and splinter away into space.”
This could potentially happen within a year.