'Starman' Is Driving Deeper Into Space Than Planned
Elon Musk’s cherry red Tesla Roadster is heading further out into the solar system than originally planned.
SpaceX launched the world's most powerful rocket from Cape Canaveral yesterday sending the car into an orbit that could last a billion years.
The spectacular sight of the rocket’s two side boosters peeling away and landing back on earth - upright and in unison - provided the cherry on top for space enthusiasts minutes later.
Video footage of 'Starman' heading out into the solar system
The supercar, piloted by a mannequin nicknamed 'Starman,' was due to enter an orbit around the sun similar to that occupied by Mars.
However, the rocket carrying the car has overshot its trajectory – and Starman is now heading out into the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Musk expects the car to remain in deep space orbit “for a billion years or so,” however it is unclear whether the new trajectory will doom the car to a future collision with some space object out in the belt.
Third burn successful. Exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt. pic.twitter.com/bKhRN73WHF— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 7, 2018
Speaking to reporters in the hours after the launch, Musk also confirmed that the rocket’s central booster had crashed into the Atlantic at 300mph - missing the floating landing platform as it attempted to return.
He said the central core hit the water with such force that shrapnel flew onto the droneship's deck and took out two engines.
The 70-metre Falcon Heavy is powerful enough to carry a payload of 64 metric tons - twice that of its nearest rival - and because of the reusable boosters is also far cheaper - at about $90m per launch (£64m).
Its payload capability is the biggest since the Apollo lunar programme's Saturn V.
The launch is viewed as an essential step in Musk's plan to establish a human colony on Mars and looks set to pave the way for far bigger commercial satellites being put into orbit.
The SpaceX rocket has already been booked to launch several large communications satellites and a test payload for US Air Force.
But Musk plans to go further - by the end of the year he wants to send two paying passengers around the Moon.
His ambitious plans to begin sending humans to Mars in 2024 will require the construction of a far bigger spacecraft – nicknamed the BFR (Big F**king Rocket).