Technology

Exactly a year ago, Ilon Musk sent a car into space. What is with him now?

It has been exactly 12 months since the first launch.Falcon Heavy extra-heavy launch vehicle of SpaceX private aerospace company. On February 6, 2018, the personal car of the company's founder Ilona Mask Tesla Roadster, driven by the Starman dummy, dressed in the SpaceX prototype developed from SpaceX, set off from the launch pad Pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Center. How is the car, which spent the whole year in orbit around the Sun?

Electric car went into a hyperbolic orbitEarth and then set off on a journey into far space in a heliocentric orbit, whose apogee (the farthest point from the Sun) lies beyond the orbit of Mars, and at the perigee, near the Earth.


Launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy super-heavy launch vehicle from the Kennedy Space Center space center on February 6, 2018

It is noteworthy that in the runThe electric car received a number of official designations: in the satellite catalog it runs under the name TESLA ROADSTER / FALCON 9H with the number 43205, and in the catalog of the National Center for the Analysis of US Space Research data it is assigned the number 2018-017A.

Tesla traveler

Roadster and the driver got to Mars orbitearly November last year and still are somewhere there, about 365 million kilometers from Earth, according to the site whereisroadster.com, created by space enthusiast and engineer Ben Pearson. The orbital period of rotation around the Sun at Tesla is about 557 Earth days.

It should be noted that all conclusions aboutThe location of the car is based solely on mathematical calculations. The machine itself is very small, so that it can be seen even with the help of the most powerful ground-based telescope, and connecting to this case some space telescope, for example, the same Hubble, was a completely unforgivable luxury.

According to the same Pierce, roadster today,after a year of traveling in space, most likely, safe and sound, because in deep space there are very few objects that can damage. Professor of chemistry at Indiana University, Bill Carroll, agrees with him, who believes that space debris in Earth orbit could be a great danger to a car. At the same time, the scientist adds that the paint, leather interior and plastic parts of the car could significantly degrade under the influence of ionizing radiation in interplanetary space. The scientist supports his opinion with the fact that even under the protection of the Earth’s magnetic field, people who have been working for a long time at a space station may suffer from the effects of radiation.

The professor believes that even a car andlooks, probably, whole, its details, most likely, could lose the durability and flexibility. However, the car body, made of metal, most likely, has not undergone any structural damage. In the end, the same Voyager-1 and Voyager-2 probes still work after 40 years in space, and they are mostly, if not completely, made of metal, the scientist adds.

In any case, Tesla, like its driver, if notwill be destroyed by space debris when approaching the Earth, they will not be able to circle forever around the Solar System. Calculations made last year show that the “space supercar” will eventually fall either on Venus or on Earth. It will happen for several tens of millions of years. The same calculations show that there is a 6% and 2.5% probability that a car will fall to Earth or Venus, respectively, over the next million years.

Not the last launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket

Usually the first missile launches can be quiterisky, therefore, as a payload for the carrier during this stage, not expensive spacecraft are used, with which no one wants to risk, but mass-sized objects. As a rule, these are just pieces of metal or concrete. Even before preparing for the first launch, Ilon Mask said that he had chosen his roadster and dummy as the first Falcon Heavy “passengers” as a joke.


Starman dummy sitting behind the wheel of an electric supercar Ilona Mask Tesla Roadster against the background of the Earth. Photo taken during the first launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket on February 6, 2018

At the same time, it’s hard not to admit the fact thatThe successful launch of the super heavy rocket proved to be a very good PR move for SpaceX and attracted the interest of not only investors, but also potential customers of the company. So, the first real commercial launch of Falcon Heavy should take place on March 7th. The carrier will have to launch an Arabsat 6A weighing 6.6 tons into Saudi Arabia’s telecommunications satellite to near-earth orbit.

Two-stage Falcon Heavy, which is the mostpowerful booster carrier of our time, is an evolutionary stage of development of the Falcon family of rockets. It was developed on the basis of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and uses its significantly modified first stage as a central unit (stage I), as well as two additional modified first stages of the Falcon 9 as side accelerators. All blocks of the first stage are reusable. During the first launch, SpaceX managed to gently land two Falcon Heavy side accelerators at the US Air Force base at Cape Canaveral. Unfortunately, it didn’t work to land the rocket central unit. He missed a floating platform located in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Florida.

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