Thursday, February 15, 2018

Starman Departs Earth Driving Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster Sports Car on Interplanetary Journey to Mars Orbit and Beyond: Gallery

Last photo of space suited Starman mannequin driving SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster on Feb. 8, 2018 on its journey to Mars orbit and then the Asteroid Belt after launch atop Falcon Heavy rocket on Feb. 6 2018 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.   Credit: SpaceX/Elon Musk

Ken Kremer  --  --   8 Feb 2018

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – Driving Elon Musk’s personal Tesla Roadster sports car, the space suited mannequin nicknamed ‘Starman’ departed Earth on an interplanetary journey to Mars orbit and beyond, while snapping a stunning over the shoulders last look backdropped by our Home Planet on Feb. 8 – see above.

SpaceX CEO and billionaire founder Elon Musk released the last photo taken by the rear view looking camera mounted on the cherry red Tesla on Feb. 8, two days after the Tesla was hurled to orbit outbound for the Red Planet by the first test flight of his firms new Falcon Heavy rocket.

“Last pic of Starman in Roadster on its journey to Mars orbit and then the Asteroid Belt,” Musk tweeted along with the photo of Earth.   

The inaugural test flight of the triple stick Falcon Heavy rocket lifted off in spectacular fashion from historic pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Tuesday afternoon at 3:45 p.m. EST (2045 GMT) on Feb. 6, 2018.

The Falcon Heavy is now the world’s most powerful currently operational rocket with twice the lifting ability of the next most powerful rocket- the Delta IV Heavy from United Launch Alliance.   

The Falcon Heavy can loft 140,000 pounds (64000 kg) of payload to low Earth orbit.  

The Tesla Roadster itself had a mass of about 2,760 pounds (1,250 kilograms), well within the capability of the Falcon Heavy. Although it served as a mass simulator, it generated astronomical amounts of positive publicity worldwide for SpaceX, Musk and his Tesla sports cars.    

Starman’ was launched as the payload encapsulated inside the nose cone atop the 23 story tall Falcon Heavy on the journey to Mars and Beyond to the tune of David Bowie’s hit song ‘Space Oddity.  

The dummy astronaut nicknamed ‘Starman in the Red Roadster’ from Musk is wearing a SpaceX Crew Dragon astronaut spacesuit, and buckled up sitting in the driver’s seat for the long journey to Mars. Starman is another Bowie hit song

The Tesla Roadster was initially hurled to Earth orbit after the 27 first stage Merlin 1D first stage engines ignited to generate almost 5 million pounds of liftoff thrust fueled by liquid oxygen and RP-1 kerosene propellants.

The second stage then fired two times as planned 8 minutes and 28 minutes to deliver the Tesla to an elliptical orbit reaching about 7,000 kilometers (2700 mi) above Earth.

Six hours later SpaceX mission controllers fired the second stage a third time that continued to depletion of the on board propellants.

“Third burn successful. Exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt,” Musk tweeted.

Musk also published a trajectory map.

Trajectory map of Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster to Mars and beyond following Feb. 6, 2018 launch on first SpaceX Falcon Heavy. Credit: SpaceX

A trio of cameras mounted around Musk’s Tesla provided breathtaking views of the journey starting from jettison of the payload fairing, the initial orbit around Earth and finally the start of the outbound leg on a long looping heliocentric orbit around the sun.

The dummy Starman was wearing a genuine spacesuit while seated as the driver in SpaceX billionaire  CEO Elon Musk’s midnight red Tesla sports car which he donated as the payload for this inaugural demonstration mission for the firm he founded.  

The black and white spacesuit was developed for real astronauts who will wear it inside the Crew Dragon spaceship which SpaceX is building under contract to NASA to ferry astronauts to Low Earth Orbit and missions to trips to the International Space Station (ISS).

Here’s collection of unforgettable images transmitted from the Tesla.

SpaceX beamed live video from the Tesla during the climb to Earth orbit and thereafter.

At a post launch briefing held at the Kennedy Space Center press site Musk said the battery for the video camera transmission would last about 12 hours.

It wound up surviving longer, for roughly 2 days.  

Watch the video here:

Video Caption: Live Views of Starman. Credit: SpaceX

And be sure to check out our growing galleries of additional photos captured of the launch and twin landings of the side boosters back at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fl some eight minutes after the Feb. 6 debut blastoff.

Check back as the gallery grows.

The Falcon Heavy is now the most powerful rocket to launch since NASA’s Space Shuttles were retired in 2011.  

Sporting 5.1 million pounds of liftoff from the combined thrust of the 27 Merlin 1D first stage engines, the Falcon Heavy is equivalent to 18 Boeing 747s.  
Read our detailed prelaunch and launch stories.  
Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of Falcon Heavy, ULA and NASA and space mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: – – twitter @ken_kremer - ken at

No comments:

Post a Comment