According to the website Where Is Starman?, run by space fan Ben Pearson, the little red electric car is travelling at a speed of 12,152 km/h, inside the capsule of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket.
And some experts are predicting it may even circle back around and crash-land on Earth, or perhaps Venus or Mars – but not for millions of years.
The Tesla was used as a dummy payload for the Falcon Heavy’s test launch. A mannequin in a flight suit, dubbed Starman, sits behind the wheel, and David Bowie’s song Starman played on the stereo as the car and rocket took off.
The spacecraft orbited the Earth twice before heading into deeper space.
Musk predicted that the car would end up in orbit around Mars, or failing that, slip beyond it into the Asteroid Belt, but the spacecraft overshot the mark. According to Pearson’s calculations, based on NASA data, the car will go slightly past Mars, and head back toward the sun.
Pearson’s site constantly updates, not just with the car’s speed and distance, but also how many times it has exceeded its mileage warranty, and assuming the stereo is still working, how many times Starman has listened to Bowie’s song.
The day after takeoff, Musk posted the “last pic of Starman” in the car, as the battery for the car’s live-stream selfies shut down.
According to Pearson, after April, only “one of the most powerful telescopes in the world, or (the) Hubble” will be able to see the spacecraft, and by June it should be beyond visibility by any telescopes here.
Exactly what will happen as Starman continues his travels through our planetary system is still – well, up in the air. Some suggest he may be crushed by a giant space rock if he ventures into the Asteroid Belt.
It’s likely that he’ll spend time – a lot of time – just following a path that will take him on an elliptical course, over and over, from an area past Mars and then head back toward our planet’s orbit. It’s possible he’ll never hit anything, although his path will alter slightly over millions of years, which could bring it close enough to potentially crash on Earth or Mars.
Some are even suggesting that when Starman finally comes back close enough to Earth for the first time, which should be in 2091, it’s possible another rocket could be sent up to meet him, and bring him home.