Since SpaceX's decision to launch Elon Musk's personal Tesla Roadster into space, which sent the vehicle on an eternal voyage into the cosmic wilderness where it is likely to remain for millennia to come, the EV company has garnered attention from all around the world. The cherry-colored sports automobile has been in space for precisely five years as of Monday, February 6.
According to the tracking website whereisroadster.com, data estimations show that on the anniversary date of Feb. 6, the Tesla Roadster had made around three and a quarter rounds around the sun and was situated about 203 million miles (327 million kilometers) from Earth. Over 4 billion kilometers and 2.5 billion miles of empty space have been traveled by the roadster. However, the car made its first near approach to Mars in 2020, traveling just 5 million miles from the planet—roughly 20 times farther than it is from the moon.
But it's hard to say for sure where the car is or whether it's still in one piece because it's likely the car could have been damaged or destroyed by a meteoroid or corroded beyond recognition by radiation. The roadster has not been directly observed since the weeks immediately following its launch atop a three-million-pound Falcon Heavy rocket in 2018. Only estimated approximations of the car's trajectory are used to get the most recent data.
The launch of Tesla Roadster in 2018
Because the car doesn't provide much scientific value, astronomers aren't particularly motivated to actively track it. The Tesla was ultimately planned to be used as a dummy cargo for the Falcon Heavy's inaugural flight, which launched in February 2018 and had a 50/50 chance of succeeding, according to Elon Musk. Everything did go off without a hitch at the launch and the vehicle has been circling the sun ever since. Though Mars itself was on the other side of the sun as of Monday, it was just crossing its path.
SpaceX stuffed the car with numerous Easter eggs before its 2018 flight. Starman, the spacesuit-clad mannequin behind the wheel, held a placard that said "Don't Panic," an allusion to the renowned science fiction novel "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," on the dashboard. The works of sci-fi author Isaac Asimov were also stored on a data storage device, and the names of thousands of SpaceX employees were written on a plaque.
A long-standing Musk dream, which also supports SpaceX's declared goal to populate Mars, is that humanity would someday establish settlements on other planets in the solar system. Musk expressed this desire at the moment of launch. Musk said his hope is that his "descendants will be able to haul (the roadster) back to a museum" if and when that occurs.
The roadster won't likely get close to another planet until 2035 when it will sail by Mars once more. Then, according to NASA estimates, it will make two approaches close to Earth between 2047 and 2050. Additionally, a 2018 academic study put the likelihood of an automobile collision with Earth during the next 15 million years at roughly 22%. It has a 12% chance of colliding with Venus or the Sun, respectively.
Hopefully, the car smashes into pieces as it slams back into the dense atmosphere if it does end up taking a collision path with Earth. Spaceborne objects colliding with Earth are actually rather frequent; most of the time, these items burn up in the atmosphere as they enter. Rarely do such impacts harm populous regions.
The roadster has its own entry in NASA's Horizons database, which tracks all the "bodies" in the solar system, including exploratory probes, planets, moons, comets, and asteroids, to keep track of its anticipated location. The "SpaceX Roadster (spacecraft) (Tesla)" item -143205 is what the Tesla is known as.
Visit OrbitSimulator.com and type in "roadster" to see a simulation of Tesla's orbit (based on the data in Horizons).
Roadster 2023 Production
Even though the all-new Tesla Roadster won't be released until the second half of this year, the wait should have been worthwhile. The 2023 model, which is packed with innovations and technologies borrowed from aerospace, is anticipated to completely change the sports car market. It won't be for the timid to attempt the next-generation Roadster. It would likely be more extreme than what Tesla had previously promised in 2017.
The new Tesla Roadster is expected to cost around USD 200,000 or more.