A lot has changed in the past four years. We have a new president and a new global disease. Things that were once unthinkable in 2018 have come to fruition. Tom Brady doesn’t play football anymore, and I graduated college. I also got a cat named Janet.
Anyway, one thing that has remained the same this entire time is Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster that he flung into space on the back of his Falcon Heavy rocket is meandering around the great abyss.
In fact, that happened exactly four years ago this week. Musk strapped his personal cherry red Roadster to the Falcon Heavy. At the helm of the Tesla was a spacesuit-wearing mannequin nicknamed “Starman.”
As of the writing of this article, it’s currently more than 234.5 million miles from Earth. It’s also moving away from us at a speed of 5,205 km/h, according to the website whereisroadster.com, which has been diligently tracking the Roadster since its launch.
This is certainly the highest mileage Tesla Roadster in the galaxy. The car has travelled nearly 2 billion miles and completed 2.6 loops around the sun, mostly in a barren, empty vacuum, according to the site.
The car is more than likely still in one piece, according to Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics. However, he told CNN business, it’s more than likely been dinged by meteoroids during its voyage.
The Roadster has had a couple close-ish encounters while in space. In 2020 the Tesla got within 5 million miles of Mars. That may sound like a lot, but in space terms it’s right next door.
According to NASA, don’t expect the Roadster to pass by anything else that closely until 2035, when it’s expected to have another brush with Mars. After that is when things really get interesting. It’ll be a few million miles from the surface of Earth in 2047 and 2050, but we’ll all be dead.
An academic paper estimates the chances the car collides with Earth within the next 15 million years is about 22 per cent, so I think we are safe. However, if it all does go wrong and the Tesla does come careening back to Earth, take comfort in the fact it will be ripped into pieces as it slams into the atmosphere.
A plus of crashing a Tesla into the atmosphere? The door handles won’t be frozen anymore.