Watch the SpaceX Tesla Roadster exploring space in this livecam
7 February 2018 - Autoblog
Hopefully you were watching when SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket successfully inserted Elon Musk's personal Tesla Roadster into a parking orbit.
But that's not this Tesla's final destination – the Falcon Heavy's second stage Merlin engine is taking the Roadster out of Earth orbit and heading for a rendezvous with Mars (sort of; it's technically a hyperbolic orbit around the sun with an as-of-yet unspecified closest approach to Mars). You can watch a livestream of what the Roadster (and Starman himself, sitting pretty in the driver's seat) is up to in the video above.
If you discount the buggies used on the Moon, it's safe to say that this Tesla is the only automobile to leave orbit. It's also going to achieve a velocity that's unheard of for anything operating in an atmosphere, so it'll technically be the fastest car ever. Unless another billionaire gets the itch to send their car into the solar system, the record of 25,200 miles per hour (estimated maximum velocity) should stand for a long, long time.
There's a sense of whimsy here, for sure, but we're loving the space-automotive mashup going on, since most of us on staff are not only massive car geeks, but are fascinated with all forms of transportation. The fact that this isn't merely a pointless stunt, either – it's a legitimate payload test, albeit a slightly ridiculous one – adds to the appeal. Lastly, Falcon Heavy represents a serious feat of engineering. Getting three rocket cores to return from space is an incredible achievement, even if at the time of this writing we don't have confirmation that the center stage successfully landed on its drone ship.
With all that out of the way, enjoy the livestream. We're not sure exactly when the Roadster will make its closest approach to the Red Planet, but you might not want to hold your breath. It's likely to be months, if not years, at the earliest. But watch soon before the Earth fades away to a tiny point.