Over a year since Elon Musk launched a Tesla Roadster into space, a tracking report has said that it has completed its first orbit around the sun.
If you don’t recall, Musk—who is both the CEO of autonomous vehicle company, Tesla and space exploration company, SpaceX— launched a red Tesla Roadster aboard its first Falcon Heavy Rocket back in February 2018.
Apparently, the Falcon Heavy rocket needed to test the spacecraft’s capability by adding a dummy load. Musk, however, demonstrated this feature in one of the unique ways in space exploration history.
Instead of adding a typical box full of random things aboard the rocket and due to the higher risk of failure with a brand new rocket, SpaceX didn’t want to put something too valuable, like a satellite.
Musk who owns Tesla figured that he would place one of his autonomous vehicles, which was the Roadster and even added a test dummy equipped with a spacesuit in the driver’s seat. They named it “Starman.”
They installed the electric car inside the fairings on top of the second stage of the Falcon Heavy rocket:
On February 6, 2018, Falcon Heavy was successfully launched, and it released the Tesla Roadster along with Starman into space.
The Tesla Roadster is still moving through space at an extremely high speed, and according to the ‘whereisroadster‘ website, which has been tracking the vehicle’s trajectory, it has now completed a full orbit around the sun.
Musk has said that he launched the Roadster and Starman duo because it would be more interesting and inspiring rather than a typical inert-mass dummy payload. At the same time, it also created some great publicity for Tesla with the Roadster being the first car launched into space.
Now it keeps breaking the record of being the car the furthest away from Earth.
According to an orbit-modeling study, the Roadster and Starman will come within a few hundred thousand kilometers of our planet in 2091. The authors of that study determined that the car will slam into either Venus or Earth, likely within the next few tens of millions of years.
They give the space car a 6 percent chance of hitting Earth in the next 1 million years and a 2.5 percent chance of smacking Venus in the same time frame.
According to the site, the Roadster has traveled far enough to drive all of the world’s roads 33 times and that the car has exceeded its 36,000-mile warranty 21,165 times while driving around the Sun and its orbital period, or time to make a full circle, is about 557 days.
You can track the space mannequin and cosmic Tesla at whereisroadster.com, a website created by Ben Pearson, founder of Old Ham Media.
Interestingly though, the electric vehicle and dummy was not SpaceX’s only unique object that was brought out to space. The space exploration company also launched a soccer ball from Adidas and some Nickelodeon slime into space last month.
The ball and slime was aboard other payloads, which was intended to send experiments and supplies to astronauts aboard the International Space Station, but the company threw in the extra toys for fun.
Dragon Capsules, as the company calls them, are reusable aircraft that carry supplies to the space station, as they have been commissioned by NASA to do so. The launch of the most recent Dragon Capsule took place in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Similar to the red Roadster, the company sent the slime in an effort to encourage kids to pursue STEM education and career paths.
It’s a win-win because astronauts get to be entertained with these objects, which became an early-2000’s staple in Nickelodeons branding, and the television company gets to market its product and promote education in the STEM fields.
“Observing and measuring the motion of soccer balls in microgravity improves understanding of the general behavior of free-flying objects,” NASA said in its description of the payload. “This could contribute to better design and use of free-flying objects such as small robots in spacecraft.”
While Andrew Machles, a vice president of public affairs at Viacom, which owns Nickelodeon said that they’re “going to slime a couple of astronauts and put it through a couple [of] demonstrations.”
The rocket launched on July 25 with a scheduled arrival at the International Space Station on July 27.