Credit: SpaceX


It is official. That SpaceX Falcon Heavy payload has been assigned an interplanetary ID: Tesla Roadster (AKA: Starman, 2018-017A). The trajectory name is tesla_s3.

The computations were done by the Solar System Dynamics Group, Horizons On-Line Ephemeris System located at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The Horizons on-line tool can be used to generate ephemerides for solar-system bodies.

Dummy payload

In part, the Horizons site explains:

“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”. Also includes a Hot Wheels toy model Roadster on the car’s dash with a mini-Starman inside. A data storage device placed inside the car contains a copy of Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” novels. A plaque on the attachment fitting between the Falcon Heavy upper stage and the Tesla is etched with the names of more than 6,000 SpaceX employees.”

Credit: SpaceX

“After orbiting the Earth for 6 hours, a third-stage burn-to-depletion was completed at approximately 02:30 UTC Feb 7, placing the dummy payload in a heliocentric orbit having a perihelion of 0.99 au and aphelion ~1.7 au.” The payload mass is roughly 2,756 pounds (1,250 kilograms), the site explains.

Boys and their toys

“I appreciate that the Tesla Roadster is a grand gesture which has certainly fulfilled the aim of raising awareness of space,” said Alice Gorman at the College of the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Flinders University in Australia and an expert on space debris.

“The images of the car — and its spooky faceless driver — with the Earth as a backdrop are compelling. It’s a view we’ve never seen before – heading away from Earth on the ultimate road trip,” Gorman told Inside Outer Space.

Credit: SpaceX

Gorman said she is, however, uneasy with the symbolism.

“It feeds into a cult of personality which is at odds with the ‘space for all humanity’ narrative that we in the space world frequently use to justify space exploration,” Gorman said. “And let’s face it, there’s no getting away from the fact that a red sports car is all about boys and their toys. The car is a signifier of wealth and masculinity. We’ve been trying so hard to leave behind the era where the archetypal astronaut was an elite white male, and we’ve just stepped right back into it.”

4 Responses to “Tesla Roadster Gets Interplanetary ID”

  • Maverick says:

    “And let’s face it, there’s no getting away from the fact that a red sports car is all about boys and their toys. The car is a signifier of wealth and masculinity.”

    Ms.Gorman needs to get over herself. Only rich white men own red sports cars? No one is holding her back. White men are not evil. Any “science” this women does is seen through an ultra feminist lens and is then suspect.

  • J. Browne says:

    I respectfully disagree with Alice Gorman’s analysis of what a red roadster means to people. I believe her suggestion that it was once synonymous with men who looked to 007-types as a role model, it was also co-opted by young beautiful women who looked to not only flirt with the 007s but actually become one. Times have changed. Women are strong. Women are spies. Women are astronauts. Women are free to enjoy fast little red cars and imagine themselves in the space suit. We wear the same space suits are men. They don’t make space dresses. We all look the same when the visor is down.
    I think it’s a safe bet that as many women as men watched that launch and felt the same exuberance and excitement that every person felt. The race is back on.

  • Roxanne M Chapa says:

    I’m a women from Texas and I have owned several sports cars including my latest a Porsche. Im tired of stereotypes. I know just as many women with big jacked up masculine trucks. Stop stereotyping people! The workd is changing

  • Steve says:

    Here we go. Another angry, liberal feminist insulting “elite white males.” Too bad. Starman is Musk’s vision and I think it’s awesome.

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