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Where is Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster now?

07th February 2023
Ethan Jupp

Where is the Tesla Roadster? No, not the new one, although that is a valid question. Just over five years ago, SpaceX got creative in the testing and promotion of its Falcon Heavy launch rocket platform. Courtesy of boss man Elon Musk, its first proper payload taken into space was his personal first-generation Lotus-based Tesla Roadster, complete with a mannequin in a space suit.

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Needless to say, in the five trips around the Sun our planet has made since then, the Tesla and Starman, as he came to be known, have had quite the journey all of their own, culminating in some spectacular figures we’ll crunch below.

So where is it now? Well, happily, there is a website tracking its near-exact whereabouts at all times. At the time of writing – and these figures are constantly changing due to the speed it’s traveling at, more in which in a moment – the Tesla and Starman are 203 million miles from Earth, 280 million miles from Mars and 136 million miles from the sun.

Travelling outwards from the Earth, its orbit surpassed that of the route Mars conventionally takes around the Sun. As it sits, it’s passed Mars’s orbital path, albeit on the opposite side of the Sun to where Mars and indeed we are now.

Since its launch, it’s gone round the Sun almost 3.3 times, having covered over 2.5 trillion miles. For context, that’s over 70,000-times the given 36,000-mile warranty the car was supplied with when new, and is enough to cover the distance of all the roads on earth over 63 times.

To become the world’s highest-mileage car, the Roadster has been travelling (and continues to do so) at a relatively consistent speed of 51,900mph. That’s around 171-times the record V-Max of the Bugatti Chiron SuperSport 300+.

Now although all this is slightly mind-blowing for a little two-seater sportscar that was first manufactured in Norfolk of all places, it’s a drop in the cosmic ocean that Starman and the Roadster will face for eternity.

That said, it can be a small solar system at times and it’s almost inevitable that they’ll bump into some familiar faces once in a while. For instance, NASA reckons it’ll come as close to Earth as it’s ever been since its launch, between 2047 and 2050. Not quite close enough to try out whatever iteration of the Supercharger network is operational then (not that it’ll be compatible) but still, a glancing visit.

As for the chances of an impact? Around 22 per cent, albeit over the next 15 million years, according to some Astrophysics folks over at Cornell University, though that’s not been verified by others. We’re not worried, although an argument could be made that we’ll see this Roadster before the new one.

Welcome to FOS Future Lab where we report on the latest visions of future technology. We'll be boldly covering flying cars, hoverboards, jetpacks and spaceships with plenty of down to earth topics in between.

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