If you're wondering what happened to that Tesla Roadster that SpaceX shot into interplanetary space on Tuesday atop its Falcon Heavy rocket, wonder no more, because the company has posted a live feed from the cosmic car on YouTube. From a variety of camera angles, the video stream shows its dummy driver, Starman, casually cruising through space as the vehicle slowly rotates to show the Earth and the Sun.
Like some surreal piece of performance art, the video feed demonstrates that this isn't your father's space age. With the successful launch of what is now the world's most powerful rocket, with thrust second only to the long-retired American Saturn V, SpaceX decided that the debut of its Falcon Heavy launcher wasn't enough. It had to have a couple of curtain calls.
The first came minutes after the lift off of the Falcon Heavy from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida as the two side boosters that make up two thirds of the launcher's first stage flew back to their launch point to touch down simultaneously at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base. This was followed shortly after by the attempted landing of the first stage core rocket on an unmanned seagoing barge in the Atlantic, though the loss of a data link is still hindering confirmation of its success.
Now, in a pair of Twitter posts, SpaceX and its founder and CEO Elon Musk have revealed that the Tesla Roadster that acted as a flashy bit of ballast is more than just an inert weight. It's equipped with a suite of cameras that are sending back images of the car and its inanimate occupant.
The images are remarkable as the car slowly rotates. Sometimes it's in blackness, sometimes the Sun flares into view, and sometimes we see only the shadowy outline of the vehicle's front, but the most spectacular scenes are when the Roadster is framed against the huge, blue ball of the Earth at a distance that has become unfamiliar to us since astronauts first saw it during the Apollo missions of the 1960s and '70s and hasn't been seen directly by human eyes since.
SpaceX is letting the video speak for itself and isn't giving out any more details, but since the Tesla Roadster is currently speeding away into a heliocentric trajectory that will send it out to the distance of Mars, it is unlikely that the unusual spacecraft will be within range or be able to maintain transmission power for very long.
With that in mind, we suggest that you call up Strauss's The Blue Danube waltz and tune in while the feed is still running.
The video stream can be seen below.
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