“Starman”, the spacesuited mannequin that was sent into orbit by SpaceX with a Tesla, has had a great joinery through the solar system so far. Recent reports show that Starman and his Tesla Roadster have now moved beyond Mars. The mannequin along with the Tesla Roadster was launched into orbit in February this year aboard SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket. A tweet sent by the company confirmed this and also provided a diagram that showed Starman’s current position. The orbital path followed by the rocket was also shared.
The February 6 launch was the first maiden flight for the Falcon Heavy. The towering 27-engine rocket is one of the largest ever made and its prime purpose is to carry astronauts into deep space. The idea to launch the rocket alongside Starman and a Roadster was seen by many as a creative marketing ploy. It came at a time when Tesla was facing a number of production challenges. But the launch event, which was viewed by millions around the world, offered the company a chance to ramp up marketing and generate more demand for the car.
SpaceX said that Starman and his Roadster were averaging about 7 miles a second in their space journey. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has said that the rocket carrying the mannequin and the car could go around the orbit for years. This means that there’s still more exploring to do for the little “guy” and the Roadster.
The Falcon Heavy is essentially a supersized version of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket which has done numerous missions into space. It has been used over the years to ferry cargo into the International Space Station and back. However, as the need for deep space exploration grew, SpaceX knew that they had to develop a similar rocket with the capacity to explore further into the unknown and the Falcon Heavy offers that option. Instead of just one booster like the one in the Falcon 9, the Falcon Heavy comes with three. It weighs 3.1 million pounds and stands at about 230 feet high. The Rocket has huge capabilities too. It can carry up to 140, 000 pounds of cargo into lower Earth orbit and about 37, 000 pounds into deep space. In a nutshell, the rocket has the capacity to move necessities from planet Earth to Mars without any issues.
SpaceX thinks that the new rocket will provide a new opportunity for deep space exploration in the future. In addition to this, the recyclable boosters on the rocket mean that the cost of development is significantly lower than expected. The Starman and the Tesla Roadster may have been an unnecessary addition to the rocket. But we all love the show. It’s a simple yet powerful indicator of how space exploration has advanced massively over the last few decades. The mannequin is expected to continue the exploration for some time and SpaceX will do its best to give us more exciting updates on the journey as it unfolds. So far, it seems things are on the right track for the company.