SpaceX has irrevocably altered space travel since its inception in 2002. Elon Musk’s company has since earned a reputation for its cavalier can-do attitude and relentless innovation, such as its reusable rockets. And SpaceX perfumed its most memorable stunt to date this time last year, when its Falcon Heavy rocket maiden flight blasted Elon Musk’s personal Tesla roadster into a deep space orbit.
Elon Musk’s car has now been exploring the final frontier for a full year, thanks to a successful test of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.
The Falcon Heavy rocket aced its maiden flight by putting its unorthodox Tesla-shaped payload and its mannequin driver, Starman, into an elliptical orbit around the Sun.
Elon Musk’s old Tesla Roadster is is embarking on an incredible journey, travelling beyond Mars at aphelion – the most distant point from the sun – and near Earth’s orbit at perihelion – its closest solar approach.
Car and driver moved beyond Mars’ orbit in November 2018, and they are still out there now, more than 226 million miles (364 million km) from Earth, according to the tracking site whereisroadster.com.
And the Tesla Roadster will remain in deep space for a while yet, as its orbital period is about 557 Earth days.
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The Tesla will complete several laps around the Sun before its cosmic adventure ends.
An orbit-modelling study performed last year predicted that the space car will eventually slam into either Venus or Earth, probably within the next few tens of millions of years.
But do not worry as there is only a six percent chance the Tesla Roadster will slam into Earth within the next million years.
The is compared with 2.5 percent chance of a Venus impact in that same timespan, according to calculations.
Debut flights of any rocket are risky and therefore often carry fake payloads, simulating the weight of expensive operational spacecraft.
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SpaceX founder Elon Musk reportedly chose the Roadster and Starman as dummies for fun.
And the exuberant SpaceX entrepreneur also rarely misses a good marketing opportunity.
Musk famously runs both SpaceX and Tesla, so the Falcon Heavy’s debut could be perceived as a clever piece of cross-promotion.
Falcon Heavy will soon loft its first bona fide space vehicle, if all goes according to plan.
The giant rocket’s second flight, which is currently targeted for March 7, will deliver the 6.6-ton (6 metric tons) Arabsat 6A communications satellite to orbit for Saudi Arabia.
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The two-stage Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket flying today, is an evolution of SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 launcher.
The SpaceX Falcon Heavy’s first stage consists of three modified Falcon 9 first stages strapped together.
These first-stage boosters are designed to be reusable.
On the first Falcon Heavy flight, the two side boosters aced their touchdowns, at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The central core just missed its target, a SpaceX drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
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