Not long after Elon Musk's SpaceX confirmed commercial flights beyond the atmosphere will begin in 2021, the billionaire entrepreneur's personal cherry-red Tesla Roadster that was propelled into space last year has made its first rotation around the sun.
Musk launched the Starman Roadster into the solar system 18 months ago to test the payload of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket. A dummy in a spacesuit was placed in the driver's seat and the radio tuned to David Bowie's classic Space Oddity.
The Tesla has since completed its first orbit one year, six months and 12 days since it was launched into the universe. At the time of writing, the electric car has exceeded its 36,000-mile warranty 21,247.6 times in its journey so far (and counting) around the sun at an average speed of 41,438 km/h.
Currently making its second approach towards Mars, it will be over a year until the Starman Roadster passes Earth again, with November 5, 2020, marked as the next date the sports car will come into view. After that, it's not expected to fly by again until 2047.
It might seem strange to shoot a car into space, but as Musk discussed in an interview regarding the stunt, it creates a point of difference that gets people talking. “It’s kind of silly and fun, but I think that silly and fun things are important," Musk said. "Normally, for a new rocket, it launches like a block of concrete, and that’s so boring. The imagery of it is something that’s going to get people excited around the world. And it’s still tripping me out."