Want to Follow Elon Musk’s Roadster Through Space? There’s a Website for That.

Mars and Beyond

It’s been barely two weeks since SpaceX successfully launched the first Falcon Heavy into orbit, and many are curious as to where it and its unconventional passenger are right now. Instead of sending something boring as the Heavy’s first payload, SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk launched his own Tesla Roadster. On board is a mannequin affectionately called “Starman.”

Starman, who is dressed in a SpaceX suit, was supposedly en route towards the orbit of Mars and then towards the asteroid belt, to the tune of David Bowie’s music. In any case, Musk has said that Starman’s trajectory after launch had gone a bit off from its intended path.

It turns out, it might not have veered off that far, at least according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which released information as to the Roadster’s whereabouts. Now, you can keep track of the Roadster and Starman using NASA’s data, which engineer Ben Pearson has wonderfully put into a website called Whereisroadster.com.

A Lonely Starman

Pearson was so fascinated by the Falcon Heavy launch that he made his own calculations for Starman’s trajectory, partially because he’s always been a fan of the SpaceX CEO. “I like that he’s willing to take risks and do cool stuff that people just keep saying it’s not possible and he figures out a way to make it possible,” Pearson told The Verge

However, Pearson noticed his results were different from what Musk announced. This made Pearson unease, but NASA’s data ended up showing that he was right.

Image credit: Whereisroadster.com
Where Starman as of Feb. 18. Image credit: Whereisroadster.com

“I was just relieved to know that I wasn’t doing anything critically wrong,” Pearson said in his interview with The Verge. “Elon Musk is a visionary man, incredibly far forward, but there’s a reality distortion field when it comes to him.”

In case you’re wondering, Pearson’s website shows that Starman is now 3,609,979 km (2,243,136 miles) from Earth, moving away from Earth at a speed of 10,844 km/h (6,738 mph), as of writing. It’ll continue to move in orbit around the Sun, making a close pass to the Earth on 2091, said Pearson. That is, of course, assuming that Starman’s Roadster survives in space for that long.

At any rate, at least we know where it is, which is more than what we can say for the Falcon Heavy’s Center Core. For now, SpaceX is barreling ahead with their other projects, including their latest Falcon 9 mission that will launch two of their first internet satellites into space.

The post Want to Follow Elon Musk’s Roadster Through Space? There’s a Website for That. appeared first on Futurism.


Website follows journey of Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster through space

Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster may have slipped the surly bonds of Earth, but you can still follow its path through the Solar System. Satellite guru Ben Pearson's unofficial Whereisroadster.com website is tracking the EV based on NASA data and his own fl…
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Track Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster in space with this aptly named website

Last week, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk launched his now-famous red Tesla Roadster into space, atop the first Falcon Heavy rocket. Cameras mounted on the car live-streamed the Starman’s journey for a few hours, giving us some unforgettable shots of Earth before going black. But if you want to know where the first car cruising our Solar System is right now, there’s a website for that — aptly called Whereisroadster.com.

The website was created by engineer Ben Pearson, who’s been passionate about space since he was in third grade. “I read every book in my little library that I could about space and space exploration stuff,” he tells The Verge. The day of the Falcon Heavy launch, he saw that people online were asking questions about tracking the…

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How the private space industry could take over lower Earth orbit — and make money off it

The Trump administration wants to end direct NASA funding for the International Space Station by 2025 — but that doesn’t necessarily mean the US will stop sending people into orbit around Earth by then. Instead, NASA hopes to transition the domain of lower Earth orbit, where the space station resides, to the commercial space industry over the next seven years. But what would it take for private space companies to take over this area of space — and what exactly would they do up there?

An option would be for one or more companies to take over full-time management of the International Space Station (ISS). But the orbiting lab is expensive to fly: NASA spends between $ 3 billion and $ 4 billion each year to keep the station afloat, and that’s…

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What Would Happen if We Cancelled the WFIRST Space Telescope?

Goodbye, WFIRST?

The new White House budget proposal is calling for the cancellation of the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST). The WFIRST Space Telescope is a mission concept that aims to help scientists detect exoplanets, explore dark energy, and find answers to many of life’s mysteries. Some think that the threat of cancellation is a sharp message to the WFIRST mission leaders to reduce operational costs.

However, if this does lead to the cancellation of the WFIRST, it could be a devastating blow to the global astrophysics community, and to progress on the whole.

WFIRST was set to become NASA’s next flagship mission, with a tentative launch set for 2020. It was scheduled to join the ranks of other large-scale flagship missions like the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope, and more.

Leading Discovery

The WFIRST would not only aid in the discovery and exploration of planets orbiting other stars in far-off systems; its foray into studying dark energy separates it from other leading telescopes. The WFIRST could allow scientists to answer a host of questions that remain astronomical uncertainties: “What is driving the acceleration of the universe? What are the properties of exoplanet atmospheres? How did our galaxy and its neighbors form and evolve? What determines the architecture of exoplanets? US should be leading the world in addressing these big questions,” posed David Spergel, a physicist at Princeton University and the co-chair of the WFIRST science team, on Twitter.

In the 2010 decadal survey, a survey put out every 10 years by the National Academy of Sciences to guide funding and priorities, the WFIRST mission was listed as the top mission priority. This is true not just for U.S. astronomy, but also for the whole astrophysics community. Without the WFIRST mission, astronomers and astrophysicists might not have access to such tools at all.

“I think it’s a poor decision and an unnecessary one,” Spergel told Space.com. “I see it as abandoning U.S. leadership in space astronomy. Canada, Japan, the European Space Agency, France — they are all ready to partner with us and make contributions to the mission. They join in because they think this is something we’ll do, because it’s our top [decadal survey] priority.”

This move may just be a financial threat. Yet whether or not WFIRST is actually cancelled, it seems to be a concerning display of the White House’s regard towards progress in the astronomical sector.

The post What Would Happen if We Cancelled the WFIRST Space Telescope? appeared first on Futurism.