Elon Musk’s car is making its way across the solar system. The firm behind the endeavour, SpaceX, shared an image on Saturday showing how the “Starman” in Musk’s cherry red Roadster, launched on a Falcon Heavy in February, has made its way beyond Mars and is set to swing back on its current path.
The update is a reminder that, eight months after the company launched the car into space, it’s still embarking on its dramatic adventure. The initial mission sent Musk’s personal electric car into space, with a spacesuit-equipped dummy in the driver’s seat and David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” playing on loop. On the dashboard is a reference to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in the form of a “Don’t Panic” sticker. The car also includes a “5D quartz laser storage device…a high tech, high data storage unit that can survive the harsh environment of space,” storing Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy of books.
The website WhereIsRoadster.com, developed by self-described space nerd Ben Pearson, shows the car is currently around 179 million miles from Earth and moving away at a speed of around 35,000 mph. The website also humorously states that the car has exceeded its 36,000-mile warranty around 10,000 times during its trip around the sun, racking up a total of 370 million miles. That’s enough to traverse every road in the world 16 times over.
The successful Falcon Heavy test flight marked the start of operations for the world’s most powerful rocket in current use, with the ability to send a 140,700-pound payload into low Earth orbit and 58,900 pounds into geostationary orbit. The whole thing weighs more than three million pounds, or around the same as 316 hippos.
The rocket could soon be outclassed by the company’s next rocket, the BFR, scheduled to start hop tests at the Boca Chica facility next year ahead of a planned mission to Mars.
With “Starman” orbiting the sun once every 557 days, the hop tests of the successor rocket could take place before the car even completes one full orbit.