If you developed a soft spot for Starman following his spectacular launch aboard SpaceX’s powerful Falcon Heavy rocket a week ago, then Valentine’s Day must have been a bittersweet moment. On February 14, the Starman and his Tesla Roadster finally faded from the view of many telescopes as they drifted ever deeper into space.
The Virtual Telescope Project bid farewell to Starman with a live-stream broadcast as he floated off into the cosmos. The car was just over a million miles away from Earth and appeared only as a faint dot among a sea of stars. The final live-stream was a chance to say goodbye as it entered what will likely be an orbit around the sun.
The Project, which started in 2006, offers amateur and professional astronomers online access to real, robotic telescopes and offers a range of services for the international community. With the help of Tenagra Observatories in Arizona, it’s been tracking the Tesla Roadster and Starman since February 6, when the Falcon Heavy successfully completed its first launch.
However, an electrical engineer and SpaceX enthusiast named Ben Pearson has created a website where you can track Starman on his journey as he burns up his fuse out there alone. Where Is Roadster uses a script to compile data from JPL and plot the location of Starman in his sports car as they journey through the solar system. The website also includes continually updated statistics, such as the Roadster’s speed and fuel economy. As of this writing, it has exceeded its 36,000-mile warranty more than 627 times.
Pearson writes that his site will continue to track Starman as long as possible, probably for a few years.
Although Pearson is not affiliated with SpaceX, it seems that even an eccentric multi-billionaire sometimes can’t remember where he left his ride.
I’m sure it’s parked around here somewhere …https://t.co/cq4LEhu4qD
mdash; Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 18, 2018
The wacky payload was an attempt by Elon Musk to make space “fun” and get people interested and inspired by deep space projects. This is the guy that wants to build a city on Mars, don’t forget.
Oh, and for anyone new to this story — and sorry to break this to anybody who’s formed a deep emotional bond with Starman in the past week — we should just state that he (or more accurately, “it”) is in fact a spacesuit-clad mannequin and not a real person … well, as far as we know.
Updated on February 18: Added information about whereisroadster.com site.