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Space car cruises further than expected towards asteroid belt

Wednesday - 07/02/2018 17:46
ELON Musk’s space car has overshot its target and is now heading towards the dangerous asteroid belt.
Starman sits in Elon Musk's cherry red Tesla roadster after the Falcon Heavy rocket delivered it into orbit around the Earth. Picture: AFP/SpaceXSource:AFP
Starman sits in Elon Musk's cherry red Tesla roadster after the Falcon Heavy rocket delivered it into orbit around the Earth. Picture: AFP/SpaceXSource:AFP

THE car that Elon Musk’s SpaceX shot into space yesterday has actually overshot its target and is now rocketing towards the asteroid belt beyond Mars’ orbit.

Mr Musk pulled off a coup yesterday when he successfully fired the privately funded Falcon Heavy rocket into space from Florida and proved that it was the world’s most powerful.

The rocket released a red electric convertible sports car, the Tesla Roadster, carrying a mannequin in a space suit dubbed “Starman”, after the David Bowie song.

Hang in there, Starman! Picture: SpaceX via AP
Hang in there, Starman! Picture: SpaceX via APSource:AP

The car was only meant to reach as far as Mars, with the plan that it would come close to the planet without colliding with it.

Mr Musk tweeted overnight that the Roadster had exceeded the red planet’s orbit and had continued towards the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, a more distant trajectory than anticipated, almost reaching the orbit of dwarf planet Ceres.

Even if the vehicle and its dummy passenger miraculously manage to make it through the asteroids intact, there’s still bad news.

Indiana University chemist William Carroll told Live Science that the real danger for the car is that its plastic and carbon-fibre body will be torn apart by the harsh radiation of the sun and cosmic rays.

“All of the organics will be subjected to degradation by the various kinds of radiation that you will run into there,” he said.

“Those organics, in that environment, I wouldn’t give them a year.”

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 Key: Elon Musk, SpaceX

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