Tesla and SpaceX were the quite the centre of attraction for the world on Tuesday when the SpaceX Falcon Heavy took its inaugural flight. It is the most powerful operational rocket in the world. To test the payload capacity of the Falcon Heavy, it had a rather very unique cargo to take to space. Until now, NASA had to keep tabs on a lot of things in the night sky, the database of which includes the solar system's eight planets, their moons, over 755,000 asteroids and 3,500 comets. From now on though, they also have a cherry red convertible sports car that belonged to a Silicon Valley billionaire. And there is someone behind the wheel too – Starman. A dummy in a space suit listening to David Bowie's Space Oddity.
So, this SpaceX mission was a test mission. These are conducted to see if the rockets can fire up and propel a payload out into space, so they are mostly a heavy load of metal is attached to them so that nothing expensive is damaged in the event of the rocket deciding to blow up.
But instead of a load of metal, Elon Musk decided to use his personal Tesla Roadster. The SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch is being hailed as nearly perfect. Its path will take it as far away as Mars, and, later, as close to the sun as the Earth.
Musk says that putting a Tesla on top of a rocket sounds like a silly stunt for SpaceX, but for NASA it is an object, the trajectory of which will need to be tracked and registered.
"We need to have it in our artificial object catalog so that we don't confuse it with an asteroid discovery in the future," NASA spokesperson Dwayne Brown told CNN.
The roadster is now officially labeled a Near-Earth Object, which is a designation NASA gives to objects that can travel relatively close to our home planet. But, fret not, the odds of the car colliding with Earth anytime soon are very, very small.