Yes, the hype for the Falcon Heavy launch isn’t over yet. The launch was a complete success (although we’re still awaiting word on the center core and if it landed successfully on the drone ship.) In the meantime, we can actually see the Tesla in space as it moves away from Earth. This is amazing. The video is called “Live Views of Starman” and shows the Tesla’s location on its journey.
What’s next for the Falcon Heavy? Here are the details. The mission will continue on an experimental long coast and third stage two burn. The long coast could last six hours through the Van Allen radiation belts. This leaves more things to chance, such as the fuel possibly freezing, oxygen vaporizing, and other issues that could hurt the rocket’s ability to reach trans-Mars injection. Problems at that stage might mean that the Roadster doesn’t escape Earth’s orbit but burns up in the atmosphere instead. Or it might just end up orbiting Earth for a while.
If the coast stage is successful, the Roadster will then separate from the upper stage, targeting a heliocentric orbit. In other words, it will orbit the sun and be in close proximity to Mars during certain points of its orbit. The rocket’s payload stage will pop off the fairing’s two halves, exposing the Tesla Roadster. Yes, a bright red Tesla is indeed being sent off into space.
According to SpaceX’s animation, the Tesla Roadster will then coast in hyperbolic orbit to Mars at about seven miles per second. The Tesla won’t actually get as close to Mars as SpaceX’s animation showed.