Elon Musk confirmed late Tuesday the Falcon Heavy and its lone Starman passenger have completed one final engine burn towards a “trans-Mars injection”.
The powerful rocket launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 3.45pm EST (8.45pm GMT) on Tuesday before breaking out to into space.
Mr Musk revealed yesterday the final rocket burst worked better than intended and has quite significantly shifted the Roadster’s trajectory.
The SpaceX founder tweeted: “Third burn successful. Exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt.”
Last night, he also shared the last photograph of Starman at the wheel of the roadster.
He tweeted: “Last pic of Starman in Roadster enroute to Mars orbit and then the Asteroid Belt.”
But where is Starman right now? Where is the Tesla roadster?
Earth has already had its last glimpse of the Tesla roadster and Starman as they head towards the red planet Mars after completing one final engine burn towards a “trans-Mars injection”.
Sharing an image of the rocket’s path yesterday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the roadster has “kept going to the Asteroid belt”.
The projected path of the car would have brought close to Mars, but Mr Musk said there is only an “extremely tiny” chance that it might crash into the planet.
The car was supposed to be circling the sun at the distance of the Mars orbit, but it overshot that path and seems to be in an orbit between Mars and Jupiter.
Mr Musk told a press conference: “The battery’s going to last about 12 hours from launch, roughly.
“After that it’s just going to be out there in deep space for maybe millions, maybe billions of years, who knows?
“Maybe discovered by some alien race that’ll be like, ‘What were they doing? Did they worship this car?’ Why did they have a little car in the car?’”
On Wednesday, the US Air Force Space Command announced it had added the Tesla Roadster to the US satellite catalogue.
The SpaceX Tesla won’t come close to Mars for many months, according to Clifford V Johnson, a professor in physics and astronomy at USC.
He said: “Either way, they’ve shown they can get something to Mars or the vicinity of Mars, and that’s great.
“They’ve demonstrated that they can get something that big off the surface of the Earth into Earth orbit, recover most of the vehicle to make the whole thing really cheap.
“And then further extend the payload’s path beyond Earth’s orbit toward Mars.”