Tesla in space for five years: Where is Elon Musk’s electric car now?

On February 7, the cherry-colored electric sports car Tesla Roadster officially stayed in space for exactly five years. 2018 SpaceX has attracted worldwide attention with its ambitious decision to launch Elon Musk’s personal Tesla Roadster into outer space, sending the car on a long journey into outer space, where it is expected to remain for the next millennia.

A photo from SpaceX from February 8, 2018 shows a Tesla Roadster after it launched on a Falcon Heavy rocket

According to the tracking website whereisroadster.com, the space Tesla made about 3.4 orbits of the Sun and was about 327 million kilometers from Earth. Over the past five years, the Tesla Roadster has traveled more than 4 billion kilometers. However, in 2020, the spacecraft for the first time approached Mars by a minimum distance, passing within 8 million km from the planet, or about 20 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

It is difficult to say with absolute certainty where the vehicle is now. It’s even impossible to determine if it’s still intact. It is quite possible that the electric car was damaged or destroyed beyond recognition by solar radiation. Since 2018, there have been no more direct observations of the sports electric car. The current data is based only on the calculated marks of the trajectory of the car. Astronomers, in turn, have no particular incentive to actively monitor the car, since it does not have much scientific value.

Tesla stuffed with secrets

The Tesla Roadster was supposed to serve as a one-time “payload” for the first Falcon Heavy mission in February 2018. Even Elon Musk doubted the success of the launch, assuming only a 50 percent chance. But, in the end, the launch went without problems. And since then, the electric car has been orbiting the Sun between the orbits of Earth and Mars.

Before launching in 2018, SpaceX loaded the car with various secrets. A mannequin nicknamed Starman was wearing a spacesuit at the wheel, and on the dashboard a sign with the inscription “Don’t Panic” – a reference to the famous sci-fi story “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. There was a data drive loaded with the works of science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, and a sign with the names of thousands of SpaceX employees.

Forecast for the next 15 million years

Now the Tesla Roadster is unlikely to pass near another planet by 2035, when it will approach Mars. Then, according to NASA, it will make two passes several million kilometers from Earth in 2047 and 2050. One 2018 scientific paper also estimated that the probability of a car hitting the Earth over the next 15 million years is approximately 22%. The probability that it crashes into Venus or the Sun is 12%.

Finally, you will be able to analyze its future path yourself by visiting the site orbitsimulator.com and by selecting a Tesla Roadster from the list.

Earlier we reported on how Tesla electric vehicles would connect to Starlink satellites.

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