Nearly nine months after it blasted off from the Kennedy Space Centre, Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster has cruised beyond Mars, SpaceX has confirmed.
SpaceX’s tweet: Starman’s current location. Next stop, the restaurant at the end of the universe.
Mr Musk’s red electric vehicle, “driven” by the spacesuit-clad mannequin Starman, became the fastest car ever when it blasted off in February, and the original plan was to come close to the red planet but hopefully not nick it.
Although the final firing of the rocket’s upper stage back when it launched put the car on a more distant trajectory than anticipated, SpaceX said in a short Twitter post it had passed Mars’s orbit.
“Next stop, the restaurant at the end of the universe,” it said, referring to Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy sequel.
One tracking website reported the car was more than 289 million kilometres away from Earth, and had travelled far enough to drive all the world’s roads 16.4 times.
The car will now continue its orbit, looping back toward us, where it is expected to cross Earth’s orbit in August 2019.
One study said the Roadster would come within a few hundred thousand kilometres of our planet in 2091, but also said there was a 6 per cent chance of hitting Earth in the next 1 million years — although it would simply burn up in the atmosphere.