SpaceX's Starman Has Made Its First Full Orbit Around The Sun Following Falcon Heavy Assist
SpaceX excited fans and upset scientists at the same time when it launched the first Falcon Heavy rocket over a year ago. The launch itself was spectacular as the company used the Falcon Heavy launch to push Elon Musk's own Tesla Roadster into space with a stuffed SpaceX spacesuit behind the wheel that was dubbed Starman. Keeping with true Elon Musk style, the Roadster had "Don't Panic" written on the navigation screen as a nod to the iconic "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" book. We have now learned that the duo has completed their first orbit around the Sun.
It has been about 557 days since the launch of Starman and his Roadster into space, and so far it has traveled about 762 million miles. That is enough mileage to have voided the warranty on the Tesla Roadster, which was 36,000 miles, about 21,000 times.
Starman couldn't be seen from Earth when it made its closet approach because the Earth was on the opposite side of the sun at the time. The next time Starman and the Roadster will get close to the Earth will come on November 5th, 2020.
The vehicle will draw closer to Mars on October 7th, 2020, when it will whiz by the Red Planet at a distance of about 0.05 AU, or about 4.6 million miles. After passing by Earth late next year, it will be decades before Starman gets close to home. The next close approach will be in 2047 according to tracking site Where is Roadster.
That next flyby is so far away that some think that deep space travel by humans will be a common thing by then. Musk and SpaceX upset some scientists when Starman and the Roadster was launched because there is a chance it could impact the Earth or Venus millions of years from now, and the car wasn't scrubbed of Earth life posing a contamination threat to any planet it hits.