Since the moment the Falcon Heavy delivered it into space, an intrepid dummy driver dubbed “Starman” has captivated the world. In a midnight cherry Tesla, he rides off into the vacuum of space on a one-way ticket to the void. Jealous.
While we can’t watch him on his fantastic voyage anymore, Starman can at least remain in our social media consciousness, as Elon Musk just shared the last known photo of him.
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“Last pic of Starman in Roadster enroute [sic] to Mars orbit and then the Asteroid Belt,” the SpaceX founder wrote in an Instagram post Wednesday. Since this post, NASA JPL [has clarified] that Starman won’t actually make it to the asteroid belt after all. Instead, he’ll get about 160 million miles from the sun.
It’s still an amazing image, regardless of where Starman’s headed.
In less than 24 hours, the post has garnered more than 1.3 million likes — and for good reason. There’s something oddly poetic, even a little human, about the sense of wonderment captured in a photo of a dummy riding off into space.
By Harvard astronomer Jonathan McDowell’s calculations, Starman might be coming back around the vicinity of Earth in 2021. In a series of tweets, he noted the closest Musk’s Tesla will get to Earth in the near future is in March 2021, when it will be at a distance of 45 million kilometers (about 28 million miles).
It’s true that Starman is never, ever coming back to Earth, but he is going somewhere. That great unknown is his home now.