Today marks the 365th day of the Tesla Roadster’s adventure in orbit around the sun.
On 6 February 2018, a 2008-model Tesla Roadster (an electric sports car manufactured by Tesla, Inc.) was launched into space from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. The car was loaded into the Falcon Heavy rocket (owned by Space Exploration Technologies Corp or simply SpaceX) to demonstrate its capability to deliver a payload as far as Mars’ orbit.
Elon Musk, the founder of both Tesla, Inc.,
The Tesla Roadster was fitted with three cameras that continuously capture video from three perspectives. The footages are sent back to Earth and can be viewed live on YouTube. The Roadster can be seen spinning at an estimated period of 4.8 minutes.
As a tribute to pop culture, the novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was placed in the car’s glove compartment, along with a towel and a sign mounted on the dashboard with the words “DON’T PANIC!” The car’s circuit board also included the text “Made on Earth by humans.”
Despite the public support for the project, the stunt was criticized for its potential violations of various legislation and for its introduction of potentially hazardous projectiles and microorganisms into space. The projectiles are feared to possibly be pulled towards Earth by virtue of gravitational forces.
Musk boldly stated that the Roadster may “be in deep space for a billion years or so.” Some speculate however that due to the harsh environment present in space mostly brought about by the sun’s radiation, carbon-based materials installed on the car would probably disintegrate in the very near future.
The achievement of SpaceX in launching the most powerful space rocket currently in use to date may pave the way for future innovations and improved capabilities of SpaceX rockets, bringing Elon Musk closer to his vision of colonizing Mars in the near future.
The Roadster is estimated to reach the perihelion (the closest distance to the sun in its orbit) on 15 August 2019 and will have its first close approach to Earth on 11 January 2047.
You can see the live estimated location of the Roadster in space relative to the significant bodies in the solar system here.