Elon Musk's Roadster Is Heading for the Asteroid Belt

Tesla Roadster    
   SpaceX  Flickr

"The payload will be an original Tesla Roadster, playing Space Oddity, on a billion year elliptic Mars orbit".

The vehicle and its mannequin driver was carried to space in February 6 via the historic Falcon Heavy launch, cementing SpaceX as the most promising space company there is.

The Heavy became the most powerful rocket flying today with Tuesday's inaugural test flight.

The auto was supposed to be circling the sun at the distance of the Mars orbit, but it overshot that path and seems to be in an orbit between Mars and Jupiter.

Musk's electric auto has a spacesuit-clad dummy, called "Starman", in the driver's seat, plus a suite of video cameras. Musk's rival space-billionaire, Jeff Bezos, is also building a new heavy-lift rocket. The vehicle broadcast incredible views of Earth for several hours as it slowly tumbled through space. But his auto, it turns out, is taking a detour through the asteroid belt. Typical ballast for a rocket debut is usually concrete or steel slabs, or experiments. That's because of progress made on the earlier, smaller Falcon 9 rockets.

While Tesla's true believers love these stunts, some analysts are questioning whether Musk should be spending more time fixing Tesla's woes. You can't just launch a sports auto into space, with a spacesuit-clad dummy behind the wheel, and not expect the internet to make memes.

"It will be a really huge downer if it blows up but hopefully, if something goes wrong, it goes wrong far into the mission so we at least learn something along the way", Musk said.

In the near future, "most of our engineering resources will be dedicated to BFR, and I think that will make things go quite quickly", he said.

Pta-born Elon Musk's historic space launch
But the launch went off without a hitch , leaving Musk feeling confident heading into Tesla's fourth-quarter earnings call. Along with Boeing, SpaceX is under contract from NASA to deliver astronauts to the space station.

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Unlike here on Earth where all things, both living and non-living, are protected from radiation by the planet's atmosphere and magnetic field, Musk's roadster has no protection in space. That's more than double the Falcon Heavy's thrust.

"What we can say with confidence is that we are taking many actions to systematically address bottlenecks and these actions should result in our production rate significantly increasing during the rest of Q1 and through Q2". But then it took off, and two of its three boosters landed back on Earth.

"It's going to get whacked pretty hard" by high-energy particles, Musk said.

He was referring to the historic launch completed by his other company, SpaceX, on Wednesday. The company has received orders from many major customers, and Musk predicted Wednesday that the company would likely "exceed" the specifications it promised.

SpaceX is competing with Boeing to be the first to send Americans into orbit from US soil again, something that hasn't happened since NASA's last shuttle flight.

Figure 6. The SpaceX BFR "spaceship" upper stage.

The red Roadster - the production version of which will be, according to Musk, the fastest street-legal vehicle in history if and when it hits the market - is expected to stay in orbit around the Sun for "several hundred million years" and possibly more than a billion, a spokesman for SpaceX has said.


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