You know it’s year 2018 when someone decides to put an expensive car in the sun’s orbit. Well, technically, all cars on this planet are orbiting the sun, but this particular vehicle in cherry red, manned by a mannequin driver named Starman, is in fact directly orbiting the sun from outside the planet. Let sink that in for a moment.
The internet is divided over Elon Musk’s latest stunt and the fact that there is a Tesla convertible orbiting Mars is becoming a source of controversy in the scientific community. But, is the news really as bad as most people are making it out to be?
Enter the Red Tesla Convertible
On February 6, the world nervously watched SpaceX’s test launch from their computer screens as the first commercially viable reusable rocket in the history of the planet, called Falcon Heavy, took off from the launch pad and soared into the skies. Being a much bigger and better version of its predecessor Falcon 9, the Falcon Heavy was able to take heavier objects into the space and eject the payload much farther into the solar system.
It is quite common for new rockets to carry dummy payloads into space during their test launch to simulate the actual payload that will eventually be carried by the rocket during missions. This dummy object could be anything from a huge piece of rock to a hunk of steer – or in Elon Musk’s case, a shiny new Tesla convertible manned by a mannequin driver named Starman.
It was actually Musk’s personal Tesla Roadster that was shot into space as Falcon Heavy’s ‘dummy’ payload and the entire world watched the spectacular scenes of a cherry-red convertible floating around Earth, with its display reading ‘Don’t Panic’.
Critics Accuse Musk of Space Littering
When SpaceX live-streamed the footage of the Roadster orbiting around the sun to the tunes of David Bowie, some called it a spectacular medley of science and imagination while others thought that it was complete, utter madness. Critics took it on the internet to call Musk an ‘opportunist’ and a ‘litterbug’ for not only adding more junk to the Earth’s crowded orbit but also for using the Falcon’s test flight as a marketing opportunity for his other company Tesla. Killing two birds with one stone, if you will.
The critics of the cherry-red space-bound convertible are entitled to their opinions, but the truth is that had Falcon Heavy not sent out a Tesla into space as its dummy payload, it may have resorted to something even more useless like a hunk of concrete or steel, like most other rockets do. Would that not be considered littering as well? Instead of using the standard, boring payload, Musk and his team decided to be creative and send out something in space that they’re actually proud of.
Tesla Isn’t Going to Mars – It is Going Somewhere More Important
For people who’re concerned about the Roadster littering the Earth’s orbit, the vehicle’s orbit is actually carrying it millions of miles away from our planet, with almost no chances of colliding with our planet or Mars – or interfering with the scientists’ observations of the solar system, for that matter.
Most people called the stunt a clever marketing strategy for Tesla upcoming Roadster but, since Tesla’s previous Model 3 exceeded 400,000 preorders, it’s safe to say that Musk is a one-man-show who doesn’t need advertising. People close to the genius entrepreneur are saying that even if Musk didn’t own Tesla, he would have still sent his shiny new convertible into space – he is Elon Musk, after all.
All criticism aside, it is quite spectacular to witness a game-changing moment in the history of science and aeronautics which captured the attention of tens of thousands of viewers who wouldn’t have been interested in the Falcon Heavy launch otherwise. The brilliant idea to leave a mannequin named Starman in the driving seat of the space-bound convertible depicts the curious yet genius nature of mankind to explore the infinite universe and send out pieces of ourselves in hopes to be discovered by others one day.