SpaceX’s ‘Starman’ mannequin behind the wheel of a red Tesla Roadster attached atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket was shot into space over a year ago on February 6, 2018 and has finally completed an orbit around the sun.
The space-suit clad Starman mannequin and the Roadster was onboard SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket’s inaugural flight that day.
The Falcon Heavy rocket is designed to be reusable just like its counterpart the Falcon 9 rocket and other SpaceX’s spaceship hardware. Starman and the Roadster have been in space for 560 days and have an orbital period of approximately 557 earth days as calculated by the tracking site whereisroadster.com.
Why did Musk choose to launch a mannequin and the Roadster into space? Debut flights of rockets are risky and so dummy payloads are usually used instead of a functional satellite payload, therefore Musk decided to use the Starman and Roadster combo for kicks as the dummy payload. But speculation is that the duo is serving as a marketing purpose as well for Tesla, which we all know is owned by Musk.
Starman and the Roadster will probably make many more laps around our sun, perhaps millions according to an orbit-modeling study which is calculating that the duo could slam into our blue planet or Venus in the next few tens of millions of years. Calculations are of a 6% chance of an impact on Earth and a 2.5% chance on Venus. Or it could eventually be swallowed up by the sun as well. But we won’t be around to find out!
The Roadster and Starman ‘driver’ are, according to the ‘whereisroadster’website, currently 185 million miles from Earth and was at one point around 168 million miles from Mars. There was much concern among the scientific community that if the duo inadvertently crashed into Mars it would have contaminated the planet with bacteria from Earth which would make researching the history of life (if there is any) on Mars more difficult. Thankfully and with a sigh of relief by researchers that did not happen.
When the Falcon Heavy duty rocket launched, the Roadster’s radio was playing David Bowie’s “Life on Mars.” At this time, if the Roadster’s battery is still working, Starman has heard the son for more than 150,000 times according to the tracking website.
Also, according to website, the Tesla has exceeded its milage warranty of 36,000 miles by more than 21,00 times over having traveled more than 760 million miles in space. However, no one nows what condition the Roadster is in as the cameras that were installed on the Roadster stopped working right after launch.