Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope, it’s just ‘a starman waiting in the sky’. Last Tuesday the entire world saw history in the making (via a live stream) as Elon Musk launched SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket into space.
Despite being five days since Elon Musk‘s rocket embarked on its maiden voyage interest and intrigue in the vessel, which is holding one of his cherry red Tesla Roadsters, has not waned.
Astronomers, astrophysicists and enthusiastic stargazers have all caught sight of Musk’s Tesla flying through space just days after it launched.
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Tesla’s rocket, dubbed Starman (we’re guessing Elon is a huge David Bowie fan), is on a current trajectory to orbit around the sun and bring itself to Mars, a planet which the billionaire philanthropist has said he wants to be buried on.
However, while Musk may have lofty ambitions of finally settling on the red planet it’s estimated that Starman will be roaming around space for millions of years before it gets to its intended destination.
Astronomer Gianluca Masi, of the Virtual Telescope Project, caught sight of the rocket on February 8, just two days after its launch.
On the Virtual Telescope Project blog Masi wrote:
We immediately spotted the Tesla Roadster, quite bright … moving image after image across the stars. At the time of our observations, the car was at about 470,000 km from us.
We managed to take dozen of images, and we used a group of them to show the trail of the object across the stars.
— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) February 8, 2018
The team at Deimos Sky Survey also spotted Starman sifting through cosmos, which looks like a slow moving star
Elon Musk has stated that his rocket overshot its original orbit and is now heading towards the asteroid belt, however, it seems there’s something else at play here as astronomers aren’t even certain where the Starman is actually heading.
According to experts the rocket will indeed go beyond Mars but won’t quite make it to the asteroid belt.
Speaking to Space.com astronomer for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Jonathan McDowell claimed:
The asteroid orbit plot was just a mistake.
For selling the rocket to customers, C3 is what you care about, [and] the actual orbit around the sun is not relevant. So they weren’t careful about calculating it.
Musk announced the launch of the SpaceX project and Starman on Instagram, which – in this day and age – is where you want to make all your groundbreaking announcements.
A Red Car for the Red Planet Test flights of new rockets usually contain mass simulators in the form of concrete or steel blocks. That seemed extremely boring. Of course, anything boring is terrible, especially companies, so we decided to send something unusual, something that made us feel. The payload will be an original Tesla Roadster, playing Space Oddity, on a billion year elliptic Mars orbit.
He told his 5.9 million followers:
Test flights of new rockets usually contain mass simulators in the form of concrete or steel blocks. That seemed extremely boring.
Of course, anything boring is terrible, especially companies, so we decided to send something unusual, something that made us feel.
The payload will be an original Tesla Roadster, playing Space Oddity, on a billion year elliptic Mars orbit.
It must be nice to be so rich and innovative that you find something very unique such as testing rockets tedious and ‘extremely boring’.