Musk’s old Tesla Roadster and its dummy astronaut—the payload of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launched in February—sped past Mars’s orbit just shy of nine months after liftoff. Put another way, Starman floated past Mars after 99,700 listens of David Bowie’s Is There Life on Mars?
Thanks to the laws of gravity, the Roadster and Starman will also be back inside Mars’s orbit before long. The Roadster is set to orbit The Sun once every 557 days, which means it’ll start heading back towards the red planet after it reaches its furthest point from the Sun on November 8th.
The Starman’s journey has already far exceeded expectations. After several failed SpaceX launches, some doubted the rocket would even get off the ground. It’s now set to drift in space for tens of millions of years (a billion according to Musk) unless it collides with Earth (6% chance), Venus (2.5% chance), or another planet.
But SpaceX isn’t resting on any laurels. Following the successful launch of a fake astronaut into space, the company is looking to get some real life astronauts to the International Space Station. If all goes well, the manned mission will launch in April 2019, marking the first manned spaceflight in the United States in almost a decade.