Elon Musk’s ‘Starman’ Tesla on its way back to Earth – and there could be big plans when it gets here
ELON Musk’s cherry red Tesla, which he launched into space five years ago, is on its way back to Earth – and there could be big plans for when it does return.
The second richest man in the world – who has a net worth of nearly $200 billion – strapped his roadster to a rocket and sent it into space almost exactly five years ago.
It was a test launch of his new Falcon Heavy rocket ship, which the Twitter owner dreams of one day taking humans to Mars.
But all the headlines revolved around the Tesla, piloted by a dummy in a space suit named “Starman”.
He flew into space while David Bowie’s hit song Space Oddity roared on an endless loop.
And if you look up at the stars at night, Starman and the Roadster are still out there – but where are they now?
Ben Pearson runs the website www.WhereisRoadster.com — dedicated to tracking the Tesla — and he believes it will be close enough to return to Earth in the next 25 years.
And he thinks SpaceX could launch a mission to bring the historic car home.
Ben collated the available data and was able to calculate the Roadster’s route and speed, giving a rough estimate of where it is now.
He has been updating the platform with new information, analyzing NASA data and keeping SpaceX enthusiasts informed for over half a decade.
Starman is estimated to have completed 3.3 orbits of the sun since launch – and is currently about 200 million miles from Earth.
And by his estimates, the roadster has clocked up a total of 2.5 billion miles at speeds of around 13,000 mph.
Space Oddity will have been looped more than 500,000 times – and the car has exceeded its 36,000-mile warranty almost 71,000 times.
However, the Tesla drives back home.
“I think it will pass close to Earth in 2047 and it will pass close to Earth again in 2049,” Mr Pearson told The Sun Online.
“And I think the first time around, we’re going to send up a mission that’s docked to a spacecraft and then bring it home, possibly in the spacecraft or something like that that SpaceX builds.”
He also downplayed the risk of the space car crashing into Earth, pointing out that the car and dummy would likely burn up like a normal asteroid – which, he added, happens more often than you might think.
However, the aerospace expert assured that this is unlikely in the next 100 years.
“A lot of people are concerned about another big piece of space junk that’s out there,” Ben said.
“But the space junk that’s more worrying is the stuff that’s much, much closer to Earth — that’s basically like another asteroid, there’s millions of them out there.”
The engineer said whereisroadster.com was the most popular website he had ever created, with more than 25,000 visits on the day it went live.
“I was really looking forward to seeing Falcon Heavy launch for the first time,” he told The Sun Online.
“I saw the press conference right after, and someone had asked Elon Musk, ‘Hey, is anyone going to follow this? Will you show us where it is?”
“He said ‘no, we’re not going to do that,’ and I thought, well, maybe I can do that and I started doing that.”
With all the attention the Roadster and Starman are getting, Ben is inundated with news
But he also gets criticism from conspiracy theorists and flat earthers, who have their own take on the matter.
“One person accused my simulation of showing what Starman would see as CGI, which it was. If they mean well, I talk to them, but I usually ignore them,” he said.
“Another funny conversation was the person who accused me of being Elon Musk.
“I was flattered, but I couldn’t convince him otherwise.”
The creator of WhereisRoadster is now working on creating a platform that visualizes where all the asteroids and space junk are in space on a new platform called Solar System Stuff.
https://www.the-sun.com/tech/7609507/elon-musk-tesla-roadster-space/ Elon Musk’s ‘Starman’ Tesla on its way back to Earth – and there could be big plans when it gets here