OK, technically there are around a billion cars in orbit around the sun — but they’re all on Earth.
But now, for the first time, there is a cherry-red convertible in a direct orbit around the sun — an orbit that stretches to an aphelion beyond the orbital distance of Mars.
This fact has split the internet. So what is the controversy?
SpaceX recently performed a test launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket, a beefier version of the Falcon 9 that made headlines for being the first commercially viable reusable rocket. The Falcon Heavy has a central body similar to the Falcon 9, with two additional boosters to provide extra thrust. The result? The ability to lift much more mass into orbit or to fling payloads into orbits farther in the solar system.
The Falcon Heavy was launched for the first time Feb. 6. As a first test, it was wholly unclear if it would be successful — in fact, SpaceX founder Elon Musk acknowledged before the launch that there was a fair chance it would just blow up. “I would consider it a win if it just clears the pad,” he said on a call with reporters ahead of the test flight.
Enter the cherry-red Tesla sports car.
When a new rocket is being tested, it needs a “dummy” payload — essentially dead weight that simulates the payloads the rocket will eventually be carrying into space. Musk, being Musk, chose his personal Tesla Roadster. He placed a mannequin named “Starman” in the driver’s seat and set the car’s display to read “Don’t Panic” in a nod to Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Views of the car floating above the earth were live-streamed around the globe, set to David Bowie.
Some people were not happy about this.
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