Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster is an electric sports car that served as the dummy payload for the February 2018 Falcon Heavy test flight and became an artificial satellite of the Sun. "Starman", a mannequin dressed in a spacesuit, occupies the driver's seat. The car and rocket are products of Tesla and SpaceX, respectively, both companies founded by Elon Musk. The 2008-model Roadster was previously used by Musk for commuting to work, and is the only production car in space.
The car, mounted on the rocket's second stage, acquired enough velocity to escape Earth's gravity and enter an elliptical heliocentric orbit crossing the orbit of Mars. The orbit reaches a maximum distance from the Sun at aphelion of 1.66 astronomical units (au). During the early portion of the voyage outside the Earth's atmosphere, live video was transmitted back to the mission control center and live-streamed for slightly over four hours.
Advertising analysts noted Musk's sense of brand management and use of new media for his decision to launch a Tesla into space. While some commenters voiced concern that the car contributed to space debris, others saw it as a work of art. Musk explained he wanted to inspire the public about the "possibility of something new happening in space," as part of his larger vision for spreading humanity to other planets.
|Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster|
Roadster car mounted on Falcon Heavy upper-stage; Earth in the background
|Names||SpaceX Roadster |
|Mission type||Test flight|
|Spacecraft type||2008 Tesla Roadster used as a mass simulator, attached to the upper stage of a Falcon Heavy rocket|
|Manufacturer||Tesla and SpaceX|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||20:45:00, February 6, 2018 (UTC)|
|Rocket||Falcon Heavy FH-001|
|Launch site||Kennedy LC-39A|
|Perihelion||0.98613 au (147,523,000 km)|
|Aphelion||1.6637 au (248,890,000 km)|
|Epoch||1 May 2018|
In March 2017, SpaceX's founder, Elon Musk, said that because the launch of the new Falcon Heavy vehicle was risky, it would carry the "silliest thing we can imagine". In June 2017, one of his Twitter followers suggested that the silly thing be a Tesla Model S, to which Musk replied "Suggestions welcome!". In December 2017 he announced that the payload would be his personal "midnight cherry Tesla Roadster". Later that month, photos of the car were taken and publicly released prior to payload encapsulation.
Following the successful launch, the Roadster became the first standard roadworthy vehicle sent into space. Three special-purpose off-road vehicles had previously been sent to the Moon: the lunar rovers of Apollo 15, 16, and 17 in the 1970s.
The car was permanently mounted on the rocket in an inclined position above the payload adapter. Tubular structures were added to mount front and side cameras.
Positioned in the driver's seat is "Starman", a full-scale human mannequin clad in a SpaceX pressure spacesuit. It was placed with the right hand on the steering wheel and the left elbow resting on the open window sill. The mannequin was named after the David Bowie song "Starman" and the car's sound system was set before launch to continuously loop the Bowie song "Space Oddity".
There is a copy of Douglas Adams' novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in the glovebox, along with references to the book in the form of a towel and a sign on the dashboard that reads "DON'T PANIC!". A Hot Wheels miniature Roadster with a miniature Starman is mounted on the dashboard. A plaque bearing the names of the employees who worked on the project is placed underneath the car, and a message on the vehicle's circuit board reads "Made on Earth by humans". The car also carries a copy of Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy on a 5D optical disc, a proof of concept for high-density long-lasting data storage, donated to Musk by the Arch Mission Foundation.
The US Office of Commercial Space Transportation issued the test flight's launch license on February 2, 2018. The rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center at 15:45 EST (20:45 UTC) on February 6. The upper stage supporting the car was initially placed in an Earth parking orbit. It spent six hours coasting through the Van Allen radiation belts, thereby demonstrating a new capability requested by the U.S. Air Force for direct insertion of heavy intelligence satellites into geostationary orbit. Then, the upper stage performed a second boost to reach the desired escape trajectory.
The launch was live streamed, and video feeds from space showed the Roadster at various angles, with Earth in the background, thanks to cameras placed inside and outside the car, on booms attached to the vehicle's custom adaptor atop the upper stage. Musk had estimated the car's battery would last over 12 hours, but the live stream ran for just over four hours, thus ending before the final boost out of Earth orbit. The images were released by SpaceX into the public domain on their Flickr account.
Following the launch, the rocket stage carrying the car was given the Satellite Catalog Number 43205, named "TESLA ROADSTER/FALCON 9H", along with the COSPAR designation 2018-017A. The JPL Horizons system publishes solutions for the trajectory as target body "-143205".
The Roadster is in a heliocentric orbit that crosses the orbit of Mars and reaches a distance of 1.66 au from the Sun. With an inclination of roughly 1 degree to the ecliptic plane, compared to Mars' 1.85° inclination, this trajectory by design cannot intercept Mars, so the car will neither fly by Mars nor enter an orbit around Mars. This was the second object launched by SpaceX to leave Earth orbit, after the DSCOVR mission to the Earth–Sun L1 Lagrangian point. Nine months after launch, the Tesla had travelled beyond the orbit of Mars, reaching aphelion at 12:48 UTC on November 9, 2018, at a distance of 248,892,559 km (1.664 au) from the Sun. The maximum speed of the car relative to the Sun will be 121,005 km/h (75,189 mph) at perihelion.
Even if the rocket had targeted an actual Mars transfer orbit, the car could not have been placed into orbit around Mars, because the upper stage that carries it is not equipped with the necessary propellant, maneuvering, and communications capabilities. This flight simply demonstrated that Falcon Heavy is capable of launching significant payloads towards Mars in potential future missions.
The car in space quickly became a topic for Internet memes. Western Australia Police distributed a picture of a radar gun aimed at the Roadster whilst above Australia. Škoda produced a parody video of a Škoda Superb being driven to Mars (a village in central France). An attempt was made by Donut Media to launch a Hot Wheels-sized Tesla Model X to the stratosphere using a weather balloon.
Some news reports observed a similarity between the real pictures of a car orbiting the Earth and the title sequence of the 1981 animation film Heavy Metal, where a space traveler lands on Earth in a two-seater Chevrolet Corvette convertible.
The SpaceX launch live stream reached over 2.3 million concurrent viewers on YouTube, which made it the second most watched live event on the platform, behind another space-related event: Felix Baumgartner's jump from the stratosphere in 2012.
The choice of the Roadster as a dummy payload was variously interpreted as a shrewd marketing move for Tesla, a work of art, or a contribution to space debris.
Musk was lauded as a visionary marketer and brand manager by controlling both the timing and the content of his corporate public relations. After the launch, Scientific American said using a car was not entirely pointless, in the sense that something of that size and weight was necessary for a meaningful test. "Thematically, it was a perfect fit" to use the Tesla car, and there was no reason not to take the opportunity to remind the auto industry that Musk was challenging the status quo in that arena, as well as in space. Advertising Age agreed with Business Insider that the Roadster space launch was the "greatest ever car commercial without a dime spent on advertising", demonstrating that Musk is "miles ahead of the rest" in reaching young consumers, where "mere mortals scrabble about spending millions to fight each other over seconds of air time", Musk "just executes his vision." Alex Hern, technology reporter for The Guardian, said the choice to launch a car was a "hybrid of genuine breakthrough and nerd-baiting publicity stunt" without "any real point beyond generating good press pics", which should not detract from the much more important technological milestone represented by the launch of the rocket itself.
Lori Garver, a former NASA deputy director, initially said the choice of payload for the Falcon Heavy maiden flight is a gimmick and a loss of opportunity to further advance science—but later clarified that "I was told by a SpaceX VP (vice president) at the launch that they offered free launches to NASA, Air Force etc. but got no takers."
Musk responded to the critics explaining he wanted to inspire the public about the "possibility of something new happening in space," as part of his larger vision for spreading humanity to other planets.
Alice Gorman, a lecturer in archaeology and space studies at Flinders University in Australia, said that the Roadster's primary purpose is symbolic communication, that "the red sports car symbolises masculinity – power, wealth and speed – but also how fragile masculinity is." Drawing on anthropological theories of symbols, she argues that "The car is also an armour against dying, a talisman that quells a profound fear of mortality." Gorman wrote that "the spacesuit is also about death. [...] The Starman was never alive, but now he's haunting space."
Orbital debris expert Darren McKnight stated that the car poses no risk because it is far from Earth orbit. He added: "The enthusiasm and interest that [Musk] generates more than offsets the infinitesimally small 'littering' of the cosmos." Tommy Sanford, director of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, opined that the car and its rocket stage are no more "space junk" than the mundane material usually launched on other test flights. Mass simulators are often deliberately placed in a graveyard orbit or sent on a deep space trajectory, where they are not a hazard. Hugh Lewis, an expert in space debris at the University of Southampton, tweeted "Intentionally launching a car to a long-lived orbit is not what you want to hear from a company planning to fly 1000s satellites in LEO."
The Planetary Society was concerned that launching a non-sterile object to interplanetary space may risk biological contamination of a foreign world. Scientists at Purdue University thought it was the "dirtiest" man-made object ever sent into space, in terms of bacteria amount, noting the car was previously driven on Los Angeles freeways. Although the vehicle will be sterilized by solar radiation over time, some bacteria might survive on pieces of plastic which could contaminate Mars in the distant future.
The car and the upper stage were passivated by intentionally removing remaining chemical and electrical energy, at which point they ceased transmitting telemetry. Based on optical observations made using a robotic telescope at the Warrumbungle Observatory, Dubbo, Australia and refinement of the orbit, a close re-encounter with Earth (originally predicted for 2073) is not possible. In October 2020, the car will make its closest approach to Mars, about 6.9 million kilometres (4.3 million miles) away, well outside the planet's gravitational sphere of influence.
The Virtual Telescope Project observed the Tesla two days after its launch, where it had a magnitude of 15.5, comparable to Pluto's moon Charon. The Roadster was automatically spotted and logged by the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) telescope operated by the University of Hawaii. The car was observed by the Deimos Sky Survey (DeSS) at a distance of 720,000 km (450,000 mi) with a flashing effect suggesting spinning.
Through measuring changes in apparent brightness of the object, astronomers have determined that the Roadster is rotating with a period of 4.7589 ± 0.0060 minutes (i.e. 4 minutes, 46 seconds). By February 11, 2018, astrometry measurements from 241 independent observations had been collated, refining the positions to within one-tenth of an arcsecond—more accurate than for most observations of objects in space.
Simulations over a 3-million-year timespan found a probability of the Roadster colliding with Earth at approximately 6%, or with Venus at approximately 2.5%. These probabilities of collision are similar to those of other near-Earth objects. The half-life for the tested orbits was calculated as approximately 20 million years, but with trajectories varying significantly following a close approach to the Earth–Moon system in 2091.
Musk had originally speculated that the car could drift in space for a billion years. According to chemist William Carroll, solar radiation, cosmic radiation, and micrometeoroid impacts will structurally damage the car over time. Radiation will eventually break down any material with carbon–carbon bonds, including carbon fiber parts. Tires, paint, plastic and leather might last only about a year, while carbon fiber parts will last considerably longer. Eventually, only the aluminum frame, inert metals, and glass not shattered by meteoroids will remain.
agreed-upon "founders" of Tesla. [...] Eberhard, [...] Elon Musk, [...] JB Straubel, Marc Tarpenning, and Ian Wright.
Space Exploration Technologies is authorized to conduct: (i) a flight of the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) transporting the modified Tesla Roadster (mass simulator) to a hyperbolic orbit; and […]CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
The photo was shared by billionaire Elon Musk on Instagram and SpaceX on Flickr. As you might remember, SpaceX began publishing all of its Flickr photos to the public domain in March 2015, leading Flickr to add a public domain designation just days later.
picture is not fake [...] photo is from space [...] resemblance to the opening sequence of a Canadian-American adult animated movie from 1981 called Heavy Metal
Roadster orbiting Earth [...] like something out of the [...] opening sequence from the 1981 grownup animated movie "Heavy Metal"
a staggering image [...] and so impressive that the video seems somehow unreal. It's the greatest car ad of all time. [...] In 1917, Marcel Duchamp put a urinal on a pedestal, titled it Fountain [...] and called it art. [...] a readymade, his word for a combination of everyday objects reassembled or re-contextualized by an artist.
images were taken, 16:39-16:50 UT on 8 February 2018 [...] distance of 550 000 km or about 1.4 Lunar distances c.q. 0.0037 AU [...] 30-second exposures taken by Peter Starr and me with the 0.43-m F6.8 remote robotic telescope of Dubbo Observatory in Australia [...] 2073 close encounter [...] is no longer on the table.
ATLAS was not looking for the Roadster—it was found during routine observations and automatically identified as a near-Earth object.
captured the vehicle at a distance of 720.000 km from Earth ... show a flickering effect that suggests that the Tesla Roadster is spinning fast.
list of 241 observations and growing [...] continue to be observed for about two weeks. [...] know the position of this object to better than a tenth of an arcsecond, [...] Almost nobody is getting data that accurate.
Arch Mission Foundation is a non-profit organization whose goal is to create multiple redundant repositories of human knowledge around the Solar System, including on Earth. It was founded by Nova Spivack and Nick Slavin in 2015 and incorporated in 2016.Boilerplate (spaceflight)
A boilerplate spacecraft, also known as a mass simulator, is a nonfunctional craft or payload that is used to test various configurations and basic size, load, and handling characteristics of rocket launch vehicles. It is far less expensive to build multiple, full-scale, non-functional boilerplate spacecraft than it is to develop the full system (design, test, redesign, and launch). In this way, boilerplate spacecraft allow components and aspects of cutting-edge aerospace projects to be tested while detailed contracts for the final project are being negotiated. These tests may be used to develop procedures for mating a spacecraft to its launch vehicle, emergency access and egress, maintenance support activities, and various transportation processes.
Boilerplate spacecraft are most commonly used to test manned spacecraft; for example, in the early 1960s, NASA performed many tests using boilerplate Apollo spacecraft atop Saturn I rockets, and Mercury spacecraft atop Atlas rockets (for example Big Joe 1). The engine-less Space Shuttle Enterprise was used as a boilerplate to test launch stack assembly and transport to the launch pad. The development of NASA's Project Constellation used boilerplate Orion spacecraft atop an Ares I rocket for initial testing. More recently, on February 6, 2018, SpaceX founder Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster was used as a dummy payload on the maiden launch of the company's Falcon Heavy rocket.Cars in space
Car in space may refer to:
Lunar Roving Vehicles launched and driven on the surface of the Moon:
Apollo 15, in July 1971
Apollo 16, in April 1972
Apollo 17, in December 1972
Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster, launched into outer space in February 2018Falcon 9 booster B1023
Falcon 9 booster B1023 is a first-stage reusable rocket booster for the Falcon 9 orbital launch vehicle manufactured by SpaceX. B1023 became the second successful return from a GTO launch, and later became the first booster to be reflown after being recovered from a GTO launch.Falcon Heavy
Falcon Heavy is a partially reusable heavy-lift launch vehicle designed and manufactured by SpaceX. It is derived from the Falcon 9 vehicle and consists of a strengthened Falcon 9 first stage as a central core with two additional first stages as strap-on boosters. Falcon Heavy has the highest payload capacity of any currently operational launch vehicle, and the fourth-highest capacity of any rocket ever built, trailing the American Saturn V and the Soviet Energia and N1.
SpaceX conducted Falcon Heavy's maiden launch on February 6, 2018, at 3:45 p.m. EST (20:45 UTC). The rocket carried a Tesla Roadster belonging to SpaceX founder Elon Musk, as a dummy payload. The next Falcon Heavy launch is scheduled for March 2019.Falcon Heavy was designed to carry humans into space beyond low Earth orbit, although as of February 2018 Musk does not plan to apply for a human-rating certification to carry NASA astronauts. Falcon Heavy and other current Falcon launch vehicles are planned to be replaced by the Starship and Super Heavy.Humanity Star
Humanity Star was a passive satellite designed to produce flares visible from Earth. Its shape was a geodesic sphere about 1 metre (3 ft) in diameter, similar to a large disco ball. It was launched into polar orbit on an Electron rocket by Rocket Lab in January 2018 and reentered the atmosphere on 22 March 2018. According to Rocket Lab, it was meant to be "a bright symbol and reminder to all on Earth about our fragile place in the universe".Landing Zones 1 and 2
Landing Zone 1, Landing Zone 2 and Landing Zone 4, also known as LZ-1, LZ-2 and LZ-4 respectively, are landing facilities for recovering components of SpaceX's VTVL reusable launch vehicles. LZ-1 and LZ-2 were built on land leased in February 2015 from the United States Air Force, on the site of the former Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 13. SpaceX built Landing Zone 2 at the facility to have a second landing pad, allowing two Falcon Heavy boosters to land simultaneously. SpaceX started construction on Landing Zone 4 in 2016. This landing zone is located next door to SLC-4E, in Vandenburg Airforce Base.List of artificial objects in heliocentric orbit
Below is a list of artificial objects currently in heliocentric orbit. This list does not include objects that are escaping from the Solar System, upper stages from robotic missions (only the S-IVB upper stages from Apollo missions with astronauts are listed), or objects in the Sun–Earth Lagrange points.List of passive satellites
List of passive satellites is a listing of inert or mostly inert satellites, mainly of the Earth. This includes typically various reflector type satellites used for geodesy and atmospheric measurementsMusic in space
Music in space is music played in or broadcast from a spacecraft in outer space. According to the Smithsonian Institution, the first musical instruments played in outer space were an 8-note Hohner "Little Lady" harmonica and a handful of small bells carried by American astronauts Wally Schirra and Thomas P. Stafford aboard Gemini 6A. Upon achieving a space rendezvous in Earth orbit with their sister ship Gemini 7 in December 1965, Schirra and Stafford played a rendition of "Jingle Bells" over the radio after jokingly claiming to have seen an unidentified flying object piloted by Santa Claus. The instruments had been smuggled on-board without NASA's knowledge, leading Mission Control director Elliot See to exclaim "You're too much" to Schirra after the song. The harmonica was donated to the Smithsonian by Schirra in 1967, with his note that it "...plays quite well".In the 1970s music tape cassettes were brought to the American space station Skylab, while Soviet cosmonauts Aleksandr Laveikin and Yuri Romanenko brought a guitar to the space station Mir in 1987. Musical instruments must be checked for gases they may emit before being taken aboard the confined environment of a space station. As of 2003, instruments that have been aboard the International Space Station include a flute, a keyboard guitar, a saxophone, and a didgeridoo.Music in space has been a focal point of public relation events of various human spaceflight programs. NASA astronaut Carl Walz played a rendition of the Elvis Presley song "Heartbreak Hotel" aboard the ISS in 2003 which was also recorded and transmitted to Earth. Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield, commander of Expedition 35 to the International Space Station, recorded a music video of the song "Space Oddity" by David Bowie aboard the space station. The first music video ever shot in space, the video went viral and received widespread international media coverage after being posted to YouTube. Bowie himself later called the cover "possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created".Phrases from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a comic science fiction series created by Douglas Adams that has become popular among fans of the genre(s) and members of the scientific community.Space advertising
Space advertising is the use of advertising in outer space or related to space flight. While there have only been a few examples of successful marketing campaigns, there have been several proposals to advertise in space, some even planning to launch giant billboards visible from the Earth. Obtrusive space advertising is the term used for such ventures.Starman (song)
"Starman" is a song by David Bowie, recorded on 4 February 1972 and released as a single in April. The song was a late addition to The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, included at the insistence of RCA’s Dennis Katz, who heard a demo and loved the track, believing it would make a great single. It replaced the Chuck Berry cover "Round and Round" on the album.Tesla Roadster
Tesla Roadster may refer to:
Tesla Roadster (2008), an electric sports car produced by Tesla Motors between 2008‒2012
Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster, a 2008 Tesla Roadster that was launched into space in February 2018
Tesla Roadster (2020), an electric sports car in development by Tesla, Inc.The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (novel)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the first of five books in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy comedy science fiction "trilogy" by Douglas Adams. The novel is an adaptation of the first four parts of Adams' radio series of the same name. The novel was first published in London on 12 October 1979. It sold 250,000 copies in the first three months.The namesake of the novel is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a fictional guide book for hitchhikers (inspired by the Hitch-hiker's Guide to Europe) written in the form of an encyclopedia.Timeline of artificial satellites and space probes
This timeline of artificial satellites and space probes includes unmanned spacecraft including technology demonstrators, observatories, lunar probes, and interplanetary probes. First satellites from each country are included. Not included are most earth science satellites, commercial satellites or manned missions.
Key: Year – Origin – Target – Status – Description