Yes, it is True! A Tesla car is cruising space! The founder of SpaceX Elon Musk wanted to launch a 'silly' payload for SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket debut flight because a rocket's first flight has potential to fail. Typically, aerospace companies launch massive concrete blocks as mass simulators during risky rocket flights. As the dreamer that Musk is, he opted to launch something that would inspire the public to dream big and look at the stars -- his flashy midnight cherry Tesla Roadster. The electric vehicle became the crazy payload for the rocket's launch.
On February 6, 2018, SpaceX conducted Falcon Heavy's debut flight; It lifted-off from historic launch Pad 39A at NASA Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The successful test turned Falcon Heavy into the most powerful rocket in operation, it produced about five million pounds of thrust (22MN). During the mission, SpaceX shared Live footage as the Tesla Roadster was placed into orbit. It was a very inspiring to watch an actual car orbiting around Earth with Starman, a mannequin dressed as an astronaut, positioned in the Tesla driver's seat; while the radio played "Life on Mars" by David Bowie (video below). After the awe-inspiring launch, Musk wholeheartedly said --- "Life cannot just be about solving one sad problem after another. There need to be things that inspire you, that make you glad to wake up in the morning and be part of humanity. That is why we did it. We did for you."
The Tesla Roadster was mounted on the rocket's second stage, it acquired enough velocity to escape Earth's gravity and enter an elliptical heliocentric orbit that crossed the orbit of Mars. The electric vehicle has been cruising space for over two years, today, October 7, Starman made its closest approach to the Red Planet this morning. "Starman, last seen leaving Earth, made its first close approach with Mars today—within 0.05 astronomical units, or under 5 million miles, of the Red Planet," SpaceX anounced today.
Starman, last seen leaving Earth, made its first close approach with Mars today—within 0.05 astronomical units, or under 5 million miles, of the Red Planet pic.twitter.com/gV8barFTm7— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 7, 2020
Mars made one of its closest approaches to Earth yesterday, it is around 38 million miles away. Mars is usually about 40 million miles away from Earth. You can see where the Tesla Roadster is at this moment by using this website - Where's The Roadster? - that has been tracking its location. The photo below is the chart showing where the Tesla Roadster is as of October 7, 2020.
Inside the Tesla vehicle cruising space there is a copy of Douglas Adams' novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in the glovebox, along with references to the novel -a sign on the dashboard that reads "DON'T PANIC!" The Tesla also carries a copy of Isaac Asimov's Foundation book trilogy on a 5D optical disc, which is a long-lasting data storage, donated to Musk by the Arch Mission Foundation. SpaceX's most beautiful gesture is that there is a plaque placed underneath the car with the names of all SpaceX employees who worked hard to accomplish this mission. There is also a message on a car's circuit board that says "Made on Earth by Humans."
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.