Marina Koren in The Atlantic:
There is, at this very moment, a shiny red car floating around in our solar system.
The car, a 2008 Tesla Roadster, hitched a ride to space on what is now the most powerful rocket in operation, the Falcon Heavy, built by Elon Musk’s company SpaceX. The goal of the Falcon Heavy’s first flight—aside from not blowing up—was to put the Tesla into an elliptical orbit between Earth and Mars, a car and two planets joined together in an endless loop around the sun. That kind of orbit would, at certain times, bring the Tesla near Mars.
The Tesla successfully reached orbit Tuesday afternoon, attached to the upper part of the rocket, and coasted for about six hours—a move meant to demonstrate a new capability for the U.S. Air Force, one of SpaceX’s customers. A livestreamfrom the payload showed surreal views of the car and its sole passenger, a mannequin stuffed into a SpaceX space suit, floating above Earth. Then SpaceX cut the feed, and the upper stage’s engine reignited one last time to give the Tesla a final push into its destined orbit.
After that final blast, Musk shared the Tesla’s location. The car was heading to the asteroid belt.