Elon Musk’s $ 100,000 red Tesla Roadster with “Starman” at its wheel, a mannequin astronaut, is going farther out into the Solar System than it was originally planned.
Musk tweeted yesterday that the most powerful rocket in the world at the moment, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, who successfully launched from Cape Canaveral on Tuesday evening (Greek time), had “exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt”.
The car was supposed to be put on a path around the Sun that would take the vehicle out to the distance of Mars’ orbit. But the rocket seems to have overshot that trajectory and has put the Tesla in an orbit that extends beyond Mars’ path. After it was launched, the Tesla cruised through space for about six hours. Musk confirmed late Tuesday that the Falcon Heavy had completed one final engine burn towards a “trans-Mars injection”.
However, on Wednesday, astronomers online found some discrepancies about Musk tweeted numbers and SpaceX eventually sent a revised track to the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab.
The new orbit indicates that the car will travel farther from Mars, but not far enough to reach the asteroid belt. The zone starts about 329 million miles from the Sun and Tesla will reach about 160 million miles from the star of the solar system.
Musk hopes the Falcon Heavy will help with interplanetary exploration and assist NASA’s mission in sending humans to Mars before the middle of the century. “I think it’s going to encourage other countries and companies to raise their sights and say, ‘We can do bigger and better’, which is great. We want a new space race, because races are exciting”, Elon Musk said.
Half a million spectators on Florida’s beaches and other key points on its coast watched the spectacular launch on Tuesday.