Featured Image for Elon Musk’s Roadster has overshot Mars and is heading towards Jupiter

Elon Musk’s Roadster has overshot Mars and is heading towards Jupiter

Elon Musk’s is having some fairly unique car troubles.

His Tesla Roadster has officially blasted past Mars and is heading into an asteroid belt on the way to Jupiter.

In case you somehow missed it, Space X successfully launched the Falcon Heavy yesterday.

As well as being the largest and most powerful rocket launch in history, the Falcon Heavy had a very special payload: Musk’s midnight cherry Roadster.

Musk isn’t afraid of a good PR stunt. For example, last year Musk won a bet that he could deliver the largest battery to South Australia in 100 days, and he recently sold a bunch of flamethrowers.

This latest stunt is a real doozy, though.

Since the launch, Musk has been sharing wonderful and surreal images of a mannequin named “Starman” at the wheel of the car far above the Earth (or below, directions get confusing in space).

The name for the driver came from the eponymous David Bowie song, and as a further tribute to the late Bowie, the song “Life On Mars” is playing on loop inside the car.

If this was the first thing aliens found, at least they would know we have great taste in cars and music.

Musk’s most recent tweet says it’s the last shot of Starman before he ventures off into the asteroid belt.

Last pic of Starman in Roadster enroute to Mars orbit and then the Asteroid Belt

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on

It’s pretty likely the car will get smashed to bits in there, and even if it survives the belt, scientists say that that harsh environment of space will destroy it.

“All of the organics will be subjected to degradation by the various kinds of radiation that you will run into there,” William Carroll, a chemist at Indiana University and expert in plastics and organic molecules, told Live Science.

Caroll believes that the organics – the leather seat, rubber tires and perhaps even the carbon fibre body – will gradually shred to bits and disappear into space.

“Those organics, in that environment, I wouldn’t give them a year,” he said.

Of course, Musk didn’t actually plan on the car surviving, so why did he send it up there?

People have sent messages into space before. Most famous of all are the Voyager Gold Records, which contained music, images and other messages from our world.

Musk’s car is also carrying a message, albeit a much simpler, humbler one. Printed on one of the Roadster’s circuit boards are the words “Made on Earth by humans”.

Printed on the circuit board of a car in deep space

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on

On a deeper level, Musk’s car in space is symbolic of a new era of space travel. Prior to this, the only entities with the ability and financial means to get into space were government agencies like NASA and Russia’s Roscosmos.

We are now entering an era in which a billionaire with a rocket can send his car to Jupiter and beyond. Why? Because he can. Musk says his ultimate goal is to get us to Mars within the next few decades and going by his track record, I’m inclined to believe him.

To quote the Doc: Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.

Lead image: Elon Musk via Instagram (@elonmusk)

About the author

Stefan is an Adelaide-based freelance writer. In his spare time, he plays tennis badly, collects vinyl and brushes up on his Mandarin. Follow Stefan on Twitter

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