Elon Musk Roadster overshoots trajectory, now headed to Asteroid Belt

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A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Thom Baur

After the successful test launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket, Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster sports car and its dummy driver Star Man are now floating in space. However, the rocket carrying the car has overshot its trajectory, putting the car in an orbit that would extend to the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Originally, it was planned for the sports car to get into an orbit that will take it out to about the same distance from the sun as Mars’ orbit. However, the rocket’s final burn, which was meant to put the car on its final orbit, seemed to have worked too well.

In a tweet, SpaceX chief executive officer Musk shared the new orbit that his car is traversing. “Third burn successful,” he wrote. “Exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt.”

The new orbit takes the sports car relatively close to the orbit of the dwarf planet Ceres, which is located in the asteroid belt.

Prior to the launch, Musk assured that there was an extremely tiny chance that the vehicle will collide with Mars while on its orbit. While it is not clear whether this change in trajectory will affect the rocket’s possibility of hitting the Red Planet, the Roadster will most likely face a greater risk of collision as it traverses the asteroid belt.

The sports car-turned-spacecraft will cruise in space for about a month before reaching the asteroid field, where its survival could be up in the air. However, some experts are saying that the car may not even reach that point, as the bombardment of radiation in space could cause the Tesla to disintegrate.

“All of the organics will be subjected to degradation by the various types of radiation that you will run into there,” said William Carroll, professor of chemistry at Indiana University. “As the bonds break, the car can literally fall apart.”