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Starman abides.


SpaceX

Starman has finally made it to the red planet — sort of. 

It’s been over two and a half years since SpaceX successfully demonstrated its Falcon Heavy launch system. Rather than using a hunk of concrete or some other sort of ballast for a test payload, Elon Musk offered up his cherry red Tesla piloted by a dummy in a spacesuit named Starman.

Starman was set on a trajectory toward Mars, the planet Musk hopes to help transform into a new destination for humans in the coming decades. 

Just over 32 months later, the Tesla finally made its first close pass by Mars on Wednesday, according to a tweet from SpaceX.

Early calculations of the Tesla’s path through the cosmos show it has assumed an orbit around the sun that has it meandering back and forth between the orbits of Earth and Mars, roughly. 

This is Starman’s first close pass by Mars, but it’s not particularly close at just under 5 million miles (8 million kilometers). According to Ben Pearson, who developed the unofficial Where Is Roadster online tracker, the Tesla will be making a significantly closer pass of the red planet on April 22, 2035 at 1.4 million miles (2.3 million kilometers).

We’ll have to wait a lot longer for Starman to make a swing by Earth. His next close pass won’t be until 2047, when the warranty on his Tesla will be long expired. 

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