About 18 months ago, SpaceX launched a first-generation Tesla Roadster into orbit with a spacesuit-clad dummy aboard for the ride. Recently, the mannequin passenger — affectionately coined “Starman” —completed his first rotation around the sun and is in the end of the universe.
Starman began his ascent to the stars in February 2018 as the payload test for SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket. He was carefully placed in the driver's seat of company CEO Elon Musk's cherry-red Tesla Roadster and launched into space with the car's radio tuned into David Bowie's 1969 hit, Space Oddity . And so the journey to nowhere began, just a spaceman and his car.
Starman's whereabouts data shows that the Roadster completed its first orbit in one year, six months, and 1
It might seem weird that SpaceX used a car as its payload test, and it said was outside the norm. But there were some simple explanations of why the SpaceX team chose such an unorthodox testing method with all-new rocket. Should the company be loaded up with the Falcon Heavy with a satellite and rocket experience one of the company's famous rapid unscheduled disassemblies, they could be out much more than the cost of a Tesla Roadster.
But, perhaps more important to Musk was the fact that the stunt was attention-grabbing. This wasn't just any old Tesla — it was the CEO's personal car wrapped up with some space-themed Bowie nostalgia. Plus, it's just entertaining to see a car being launched into the cosmos.
"Kind of kind of silly and fun, but I think silly and fun things are important," Musk said during an interview about the launch. “Normally, for a new rocket, it launches like a block of concrete, and it seems boring. The imagery of it is something going on to get people excited around the world. And still tripping me out. ”
Experts believe Starman's expedition will bring him back around Earth sometime in November 2020, though his flyby won't necessarily be close at just over 32 million miles away. It will, however, be quite some time before the electric car and its occupant pass by their home planet again; trajectory estimates expect that after its visit next year, the Roadster won't be close to home again until 2047.