NASA Declares Tesla Roadster a Spacecraft, Reveals Car's Amazing Cargo

Tesla Roadster spacecraft 1 photo
Photo: Elon Musk via Instagram
So, the Tesla Roadster is an object, and crazy as that sounds, it is in space. So that makes it, for all intents and purposes, a space object. But who would have thought that the world's most prominent space agency would recognize the Roadster as a spacecraft?
NASA, through JPL, operates the so-called HORIZONS Web-Interface, a tool meant to keep track of naturally occurring astronomical objects and artificial satellites in the sky at a given time. This type of tracking is called ephemeris.

On February 8, meteorologist Eric Holthaus noticed on the NASA website that a new object has been added to the list of ephemeris: the Tesla Roadster. The object is listed on NASA's official document as follows:

“Tesla Roadster (spacecraft). Dummy payload from the first launch of SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch vehicle. Consists of a standard Tesla Roadster automobile and a spacesuit-wearing mannequin nicknamed Starman."

The document also reveals what the Roadster took with it on the journey to eternity a Hot Wheels toy model Roadster on the car's dash with a mini-Starman inside. Also, a data storage device placed inside the vehicle contains a copy of Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels.

And, most importantly, the names of more than 6,000 SpaceX employees, etched on a plaque on the attachment fitting between the Falcon Heavy upper stage and the Tesla.

NASA says that, after orbiting the Earth for six hours and completing the final third stage burn-to-depletion, the car headed out into space, probably to miss both its intended target, Mars, and head for the Asteroid Belt.

The car will probably end up circling the sun in a heliocentric orbit, meaning it may come close to the Red Planet at one point. That is if radiation doesn't turn it slowly to shreds.

The short document available on NASA's HORIZONS Web-Interface about the Tesla Roadster is attached below.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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