SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s Tesla roadster has finally made its first close approach to Mars earlier this week. ‘Driven’ by spacesuit- wearing mannequin dubbed ‘Starman’, the roadster was the part of a dummy payload that was attached to the second stage of SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket that was launched two years ago. On October 9, the SpaceX took to its social media accounts to post an image of the vehicle as it made first close approach with Mars and came within 5 million miles of the Martian planet.
Starman, last seen leaving Earth, made its first close approach with Mars today—within 0.05 astronomical units, or under 5 million miles, of the Red Planet pic.twitter.com/gV8barFTm7— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 7, 2020
An astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Jonathan Dowell, told CNN that “it’s a long road”. He also noted that Mars would appear nearly one-tenth of the diameter of the Moon, which is “so small but not a point”. Dowel reportedly tracked the rocket using the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Horizons system by NASA that has an accurate trajectory calculated from the Falcon 9’s preliminary orbit as it blasted off Earth. According to him, the roadster is in an elliptical orbit around the Sun.
I know many of you have an interest in the Falcon Heavy 001 second stage, which continues orbiting the Sun with a sports car bolted to its payload adapter. pic.twitter.com/Fr9UgafoyC— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) October 7, 2020
While Tesla roadster is achieving milestones in space, SpaceX CEO hinted at company’s India debut in reply to a post with a photograph of a T-shirt with the message ‘India wants Tesla’. Saying it would be in 2021 “for sure, Elon Musk’s tweet had broken the internet at the time with people saying they “can’t keep calm”. Musk even said “thanks for waiting”. Tesla CEO’s announcement came especially when India's auto sector that was already reeling from a slowdown in demand last year, has been further hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and carmakers are seeking government support to push sales.
Hey Elon , just thought we'd put this out here. We wait and hang on to hope wrt "hopefully soon" for India Tesla entry. Would love to hear of any progress in this regard. pic.twitter.com/8FNvyqFhIX— Tesla Club India™ (@TeslaClubIN) October 2, 2020
Next year for sure— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 2, 2020
"Please take my booking now itself. I can wait for its launch time but not for booking," one individual wrote. "Wohoo. Finally, it is confirmed. He is coming to India in 2021. Eagerly waiting Elon sir to work in your great TESLA company. That's why I chose Electrical Engineering. A huge welcome," another user commented. "If Tesla comes to see to India there will be a revolution in transportation I wish it to happen," wrote one user.