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SpaceX 'Starman' travels toward asteroid belt in Tesla Roadster

By Daniel Uria
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SpaceX 'Starman' travels toward asteroid belt in Tesla Roadster
Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster floats past Earth following a launch into space aboard the Falcon Heavy on Tuesday. The vehicle, originally planned for an elliptic orbit past Mars, is now on a trajectory for the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Photo by SpaceX

Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Elon Musk's cherry-red Tesla Roadster, with a mannequin in the driver seat, was launched into space aboard the Falcon Heavy rocket Tuesday, and spent the next several hours beaming back pictures from the start of its billion-year orbit through the solar system.

A four-hour livestream chronicled the adventures of the mannequin, known as "Starman," providing stunning images as it started on an elliptic orbit toward Mars -- though it has exceeded the Mars orbit and is expected to head toward the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

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Musk, founder and CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla, said the car's stereo was playing David Bowie's "Space Oddity," as images from the livestream showed a message reading "DON'T PANIC" on the dashboard.

Earth loomed large in the background as the Roadster gently glided through space and its passenger, fitted with SpaceX's new space suit, casually rested its left arm on the driver's side door and right arm on the steering wheel.

Occasionally the earth drifted out of view and the Tesla's bright paint job stood in contrast to the dark expanse of space.

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Musk said the car and driver could be in a "hyperbolic orbit" for a billion years.

The Roadster is being carried by the second stage of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket, which the company hopes to eventually use to transport both astronauts and citizens to the moon and Mars.

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