back to article What did we say about Tesla's self-driving tech? SpaceX Roadster skips Mars, steers to asteroids

The final rocket burn of the SpaceX craft carrying Elon Musk's personal Tesla Roadster into the cosmos pushed the billionaire's flash jalopy much further than anticipated. It's now heading out toward the Solar System's asteroid belt rather than swinging close by Mars as planned. Yesterday, SpaceX launched its powerful Falcon …

  1. Dave Harvey
    Facepalm

    It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

    The comment in the article "The payload was supposed to get into an orbit around the Sun, and skim Mars" is simply WRONG - it was always going to be a heliocentric orbit which just happened to go out as far as Mars! Had they planned to go anywhere near Mars, with a risk of crashing, then they'd have had to spend months sterilising the car for planetary protection.

    So the fact that it now happens to go a bit further is no problem, and not an error - in fact they actually said that they'd burn the fuel to exhaustion, and see how far/fast it would go.

    Sky News made the same mistake, and it's not surprising from them, but I would have expected better from a space-faring publication

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

      "So the fact that it now happens to go a bit further is no problem, and not an error"

      Who said it was a problem? We're just pointing out that it's overshot. Musk tweeted the final burn was going to send the thing "to Mars". It was heading to Mars. It's going to miss Mars by a much greater distance than expected.

      Christ, it's a flying PR st- car. A flying car in space. It's funny as fuck.

      Jeez, tough crowd! ;-)

      C.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: Tough crowd

        Warning: A bunch of programmers hang out here.

        Programmers spend half their lives dealing with computers that do exactly what they are told even when it is not what is wanted. They spend the other half of their lives trying to get humans to explain clearly what they want so they do not throw a tantrum when they get what they asked for.

        Dave Harvey clearly believes you are capable of communicating with the precision appreciated by programmers. Take it as a compliment because they do not make the effort when they believe there is no hope.

      2. Dr Scrum Master

        Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

        Problem?

        During a press conference after liftoff, Musk said it was dicey whether the second stage would power up at all. The fuel could have frozen, the oxygen boiled off, or the avionics failed, as the rocket spent more than five hours in our planet's high-radiation Van Allen belts before firing up.

        I'd rather like my space craft to be a bit more reliable, and for people to retain domain knowledge. Domain knowledge? There are enough (>=1) old-time rocket scientists who managed to point out problems with fuel, valve, and time-in-space problems with certain NASA missions, namely: don't use certain fuels for missions longer than a certain duration. I would have hoped that someone would have been able to calculate the thrust correctly, ensured that fuel did not freeze, shield the avionics, etc.

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

          I would have hoped that someone would have been able to calculate the thrust correctly, ensured that fuel did not freeze, shield the avionics, etc.

          Oh, come on you grumpy old git (*). Stop telling the kids to get their bikes off our lawn as if it is reserved for our mobility scooters. It is a reality that nobody keeps to Bismark's old saying: "Only idiots learn from their own mistakes, smart people learn from the mistakes of others".

          (*)I am in that category myself nowdays too.

        2. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

          I'd rather like my space craft to be a bit more reliable, and for people to retain domain knowledge. Domain knowledge? There are enough (>=1) old-time rocket scientists who managed to point out problems with fuel, valve, and time-in-space problems with certain NASA missions, namely: don't use certain fuels for missions longer than a certain duration

          And even though Ignition! has long been out of print (there's a reprint coming out), there are PDF versions of it aplenty. Very informative, and any rocket surgeon who hasn't read it shouldn't be anywhere near the propulsion side of things.

          1. Stork Silver badge

            Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

            Thanks for the link to Ignition! - something for both me, and I think, my slightly geeky son.

            1. OrientalHero
              FAIL

              Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

              IIRC, Ignition is the one where eager rocket scientists keep blowing fingers off in mad experiments...

          2. Floydian Slip
            Mushroom

            Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

            And it is really rocket science.

            Ignition is an interesting (and quite amusing) read even if you're not a rocket scientist.

            Get your free PDF here https://library.sciencemadness.org/library/books/ignition.pdf

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

          "I would have hoped that someone would have been able to calculate the thrust correctly, ensured that fuel did not freeze, shield the avionics, etc."

          Calculations rely on physics and experimental data. Whilst the physics is know the experimental data is thin on the ground as I don't believe anyone had ever put a kerosene based rocket stage into deep space. As you say you normally use fuels more suited to the job in hand, however they used what they had. No doubt besides having some very cool videos of a car in space they now have physical data so support if oxygen boil off and kerosene freezing matches their calculations and how much of the boiled or frozen fuel is actually usable to provide thrust. They also now have physical evidence about how cosmic rays (that are almost impossible to shield) affect their non-radiation hardened computer systems. All nice to have spin offs from a publicity stunt.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Reliability

          "I'd rather like my space craft to be a bit more reliable..."

          How do you think reliability is achieved? If any bit of technology worked reliably on a first attempt there wouldn't be any need for testing.

          "There are enough (>=1) old-time rocket scientists who managed to point out problems with fuel, valve, and time-in-space problems with certain NASA missions, namely: don't use certain fuels for missions longer than a certain duration"

          And how do you think they gained that knowledge and expertise?

          As far as first flights of orbital launch systems go, the first flight of Falcon Heavy was spectacularly successful.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

        @diodesign,

        Christ, it's a flying PR st- car. A flying car in space. It's funny as fuck.

        No it's not. It's $billions space littering, especially as its orbit now crosses that of Mars, and it isn't sterile and risks polluting the place ruining it for science should it hit. It may now hit Mars, even if that takes a long time. It was supposed to be put into an orbit that didn't reach Mars, but they cocked it up.

        So when does dropping litter on the street ever seem funny? Why does essentially the same kind of careless act by a show-off billionaire attract your mirth?

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

          Actually it doesn't. The orbit is inclined out of the plane of the solar system, meaning it will pass 'over' or 'under' Mars in its orbits. It DOES get closer to earth so might at some point get another kick that way, but that would probably send it further out of plane and further out into the solar system. It's unlikely this car will ever end up on Mars unless someone goes to recover it and land it there.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

          "It may now hit Mars, even if that takes a long time"......

          Whilst on paper orbits look 2D and intersect they are actually 3D and don't. Maybe in a billion years or so the orbit might have been perturbed enough for an impact but after a billion years of sterilization in space it's going to be Mars contaminating the car and not the other way around.

          1. Tony Haines

            Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

            Have you heard?

            It's in the stars.

            Next July, it collides with Mars.

        3. se99paj

          Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

          No it's not. It's $billions space littering, especially as its orbit now crosses that of Mars, and it isn't sterile and risks polluting the place ruining it for science should it hit.

          Unfortunately unless science can provide a profit it will always come second to commercial gains.

          So when does dropping litter on the street ever seem funny?

          I agree with you, but the simple answer is we have limited space on earth, there is a lot more room in space - "That's why they call it space"

          1. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

            "Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space."

            DNA

        4. I Am Spartacus
          Mushroom

          Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

          >>> t's $billions space littering, especially as its orbit now crosses that of Mars, and it isn't sterile and risks polluting the place ruining it for science should it hit.

          In the words of everyone space guru:

          Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is. I mean you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space."

          The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

          The probability of it actually hitting Mars, or anything else in the solar system for that matter, in mine, or yours, or even our great grand childrens lifetimes is so astronomically small that you might need an infinite improbability drive to calculate it.

        5. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

          "

          So when does dropping litter on the street ever seem funny? Why does essentially the same kind of careless act by a show-off billionaire attract your mirth?

          "

          Imagine that you are walking along a London street, and a fleck of dandruff falls from your scalp into the gutter. Would you be quite happy to pay a £75 fine for littering? Because you will have introduced 1000's of times more litter into the city than this test launch has created in space.

          There is a far higher risk of Mankind being destroyed by a large space rock hitting the Earth than there is of that Tesla Roadster hitting any planet.

          In any case, if it starts heading toward a planet, the robotic mannequin is programmed to quickly apply the brakes and steer out of the way :-)

        6. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

          @AC: Why does essentially the same kind of careless act by a show-off billionaire attract your mirth?

          I'll bet you're a lot of fun at parties...

      4. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

        "overshot" means it's an error.

      5. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

        > Jeez, tough crowd! ;-)

        *If* the aim was to get into a particular orbit, then this is an epic fail on the part of the control systems to be so far off. Unfortunately that seems to be how it's being reported (or at least reports I've seen, but I haven't tried hard to read it all)

        *If* the aim was to burn the rest of the fuel to exhaustion just to kick the car as hard as possible, then this is not a fail.

        Still fricking awesome to watch.

        1. maffski

          Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

          *If* the aim was to burn the rest of the fuel to exhaustion

          yes

          just to kick the car as hard as possible

          no

          they need to burn through all the fuel to compare the real world vs their calculations vs their measurements

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

      So the fact that it now happens to go a bit further is no problem, and not an error - in fact they actually said that they'd burn the fuel to exhaustion, and see how far/fast it would go

      As far as I can see it is still in a heliocentric orbit but it's a lot bigger than intended. It's orbit now crosses that of Mars. It's going to do that about once every year forevermore. One day it's going hit Mars, and that is a problem because as far as we know that Tesla hasn't been prepared as sterile. If it hits Mars, we'll never be sure of the results of any was-there-life-on-Mars experiments; we might be detecting a Musk booger.

      For SpaceX I don't see how this can be good news. Customers want accurate launches, not wildly off the mark launches. I know they wanted to burn the stage to fuel exhaustion, but there's no need to see how much energy a booster produces in space; that's what the test stand is for.

      1. ilmari

        Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

        How does the inclination of elon's roadster line up with the inclination of mars?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

        > One day it's going hit Mars

        Have you actually calculated the probability of this thing striking Mars in, say, the next 10 billion years? If so, what answer did you get?

        Whilst we're not talking about the whole universe here, the solar system is still mind-bogglingly big. And if there is even a minute tilt between the plane of Mars' orbit and the plane of Tesla's, the chance of impact is vanishingly small.

        You might also want to work out the probabilities of hitting Mercury, Venus and Earth while you're at it.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

          Here's a handy page to give folks who are unclear on the concept a rough idea of how much vacuum there is between planets ... And please remember, this is only a one dimensional representation!

          If The Moon Were Only One Pixel

          1. Gordon 8
            Pint

            Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

            Cool map, Never realized there were word shaped planets out there

            Have a Beer

          2. Chloe Cresswell

            Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

            "His pattern indicates two-dimensional thinking." :)

        2. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

          Have you actually calculated the probability of this thing striking Mars in, say, the next 10 billion years?

          "A million to one", he said.

          1. VictimMildew

            Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

            > "A million to one", he said.

            As Terry Pratchett pointed out: it's the million to one chances that come up every time. A.K.A. The dice have no memory.

      3. Brangdon

        Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

        According to https://spaceflightnow.com/2018/02/08/starman-puts-earth-in-the-rearview-mirror/, it's orbit is pretty much as originally planned. It will miss Mars by about 69 million miles (which is 2/3rds of the Earth-Sun distance, so a long way). Furthest distance from Sun will be 158 million miles. That's far short of Ceres (250 million miles), but relatively close to the inner asteroid belt (180 million miles).

        It's not going to hit Mars any time in the next few thousand years. By the time it does, we'll be living there and will have contaminated it thoroughly.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

      "The comment in the article "The payload was supposed to get into an orbit around the Sun, and skim Mars" is simply WRONG - it was always going to be a heliocentric orbit which just happened to go out as far as Mars!"

      WTF?? A heliocentric orbit is an orbit around the Sun, and how is going out as far as Mars not the same as skim[ing] Mars?

      You've just claimed that what was said in the article was wrong and then said exactly what the article said.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

      If they had planned to drop a car on mars, then the vehicle of choice should have been a Silver Locust.

      Just chronically posting this for the benefit of any martians, who might want a word with us about the common cold.

    5. Duncan Cummings
      Unhappy

      Re: "a space-faring publication"?

      On a side note, whatever happened to LOHAN?

      There hasn't been an update since 2016.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: "a space-faring publication"?

        Duncan,

        https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/06/16/lester_haines_obituary/

        I don't think anybody has had the heart/ability to pick up the reins ...

      2. Daniel B.
        Unhappy

        Re: "a space-faring publication"?

        On a side note, whatever happened to LOHAN?

        There hasn't been an update since 2016.

        Lester died in 2016; thus the project died with him.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: "a space-faring publication"?

          There was some talk at the time about continuing the project, but they'd already been waiting on an answer from the FAA for a year by that point and I doubt they've heard anything since (If there is ever even going to be an answer from the FAA).

  2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
    Pint

    Do you think they've finished celebrating yet over at SpaceX? That's gonna be one hell of a hangover. But well deserved.

  3. TheOtherMe
    Thumb Up

    Tax write-off

    Ok using his personal roadster as a test payload is way better than using a block of concrete. However there is also an upside for him in that he can write the vehicle off as a tax loss, and get a brand spanking new one in the process. Who said he was just a silly little boy?

    1. Blake St. Claire

      Re: Tax write-off

      You get tax write offs for sending your stuff to the (celestial) dust bin?

      Does everyone get to do that, or only the 1%? Because I have lots of stuff I could dispose of, and if I can get a tax write off for doing it, so much the better.

      Admittedly putting my old stuff out on the kerb isn't nearly as exciting as shooting it into space––

    2. Rustbucket

      Re: Tax write-off

      I was mildly disappointed that they couldn't find some real science experiments to toss into the payload along with the roadster.

      How many other opportunities for potentially free trips of that magnitude into the solar system are you going to get? I'm sure the world's universities could have quickly come up with some research that could be done on the cheap.

      1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

        Re: Tax write-off

        Generally, no-one wants the hassle of "real science experiments": assuming you can find a source of "real science experiments" that won't mind the unpredictability of the launch schedule (because the payload is going to be delivered to Canaveral, bolted to the rocket, and then ignored for as long as it takes to get the rocket ready), the "real science experiments" would (obviously) be on their own for telemetry, etc. because the rocket scientists are going to want to be able to co-opt anything they want. Plus, the "real science experiments" had better be 100% guaranteed not to fail in a way that might damage the launcher.

        NASA calls the things "mass simulators" for a reason. And I'd say the car-in-space gimmick is probably as valuable to Space X as anything they could carry in terms of publicity. I mean, who bothered to report on Dragon's maiden flight's cargo? (a soft cheese, as it happens).

        1. ridley

          Re: Tax write-off

          I don't know I would have fancied knocking up something with a raspberry Pi.

          On the other hand I am sure that LOHAN would have fit into the passenger seat..

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Tax write-off

            The raspberry Pi bit would be easy enough provided you have a really really long ethernet cable ;-)

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Baldrickk Silver badge

          Re: Tax write-off

          I mean, who bothered to report on Dragon's maiden flight's cargo? (a soft cheese, as it happens).

          Well, in that case, the fact that they didn't reveal it until after the flight had happened and 90% of the news had already been reported, leaving it as a side-note for bloggers etc to comment on after the fact did that.

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Tax write-off

          "And I'd say the car-in-space gimmick is probably as valuable to Space X as anything they could carry in terms of publicity."

          Yes, definitely. It's been one of the topics of conversation at every site I've visited since the launch. I've heard comments from people who obviously have no interest in "space stuff" normally because they were gob-smacked at the booster landing and didn't know that was possible. Oh yes, and thought the image of a sports car in space was cool.

          As a publicity stunt, I'd say it's succeeded beyond all expectations.

      2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: Tax write-off

        You don't need science experiments - that will trow politics into the mix. What he needed was an advert from the marketying crowd.

        He picked a Tesla, which gave him a nice publicity boost. If I were him I would have added a pointable low-power astronomical telescope - maybe several - a stability system and a 2-way communications link. Those are all low-cost and pretty much standard off-the-shelf kit. And that would have meant that he could have provided 'space' pictures over the internet to hobbyists for as long as the stability system/comms link held out. Who knows - the 'probe' might come within reasonable viewing range of an asteroid....

      3. Julz Bronze badge

        Re: Tax write-off

        Green goo?

      4. dnicholas Bronze badge

        Re: Tax write-off

        There was a fair chance it was going to go bang, or not do anything at all, perhaps something in between. Sending his car was much preferable to sending $beellllions worth of science kit

      5. annodomini2

        Re: Tax write-off

        I was mildly disappointed that they couldn't find some real science experiments to toss into the payload along with the roadster.

        Who says they haven't?

        Having their space suit on board, you could put various sensors on it with a simple electronics payload and measure all sorts of things, not much use to the general public, but probably a lot of use for SpaceX.

        Likewise the car uses materials not typically used in space operations which could be studied.

    3. Robert Heffernan

      Re: Tax write-off

      Honestly I wouldn't write the car off as a tax deduction. I would be claiming the per-kilometer payment for using a private vehicle for business purposes.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Tax write-off

        I would be claiming the per-kilometer payment for using a private vehicle for business purposes.

        Then the taxman cometh and wants to take a peek at the odometer.

        1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Tax write-off

          @Stoneshop - "Then the taxman cometh and wants to take a peek at the odometer."

          So offer to put him on the second test...

        2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: Tax write-off

          Then the taxman cometh and wants to take a peek at the odometer.

          Should not be an issue for Elon. They can launch the taxman as a followup.

        3. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. keith_w

        Re: Tax write-off

        I think you have to actually be driving it (or someone does) in order to claim the mileage.

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: Tax write-off

          I think you have to actually be driving it (or someone does) in order to claim the mileage.

          Did someone else on this thread comment that this would have been the most ingenious way to get rid of a body...

    4. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Tax write-off

      Space history includes the story of a large UV transparent sapphire window, imported by JPL or NASA at great expense. They had to pay import duty / taxes. When they launched the gadget, they dragged a Customs official down to witness the launch, i.e. re-export, so they got their money back. So the story goes...

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: Tax write-off

        Space history includes the story of a large UV transparent sapphire window, imported by JPL or NASA at great expense. They had to pay import duty / taxes.

        There's also the trip expense claim from one of the Apollo astronauts. They also had to sign customs forms for the moon rock samples they took back.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More proof the combustion engine is far superior, that would have worked much better in space then these electric ones. Lets burn more coal.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      has there ever been a coal-fired car? I am pretty sure that the Stanley Steamer was designed to run on kerosene. (a web page suggests it could burn kerosene, gasoline, or a mixture of the two).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        apparently so according to the internet...

      2. jake Silver badge

        Yes, there have been coal fired cars. Here's one:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUgVCR_658M

      3. kventin

        seriously?

        never heard of sentinels? (plural, because British but also Škoda)

        or try this: http://ttte.wikia.com/wiki/Elizabeth

      4. phuzz Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Even Land Rovers can be coal fired.

        That's after an engine swap to a (external combustion) steam engine of course.

        Choo choo!

    2. Ogi

      > More proof the combustion engine is far superior, that would have worked much better in space then these electric ones. Lets burn more coal.

      I think you are being sarcastic here, however you are not that far wrong. The Tesla was in fact shunted onto its path by combustion engines, no? Unless Musk has really outdone himself and was using some electric engines (EMDrive, where art thou?), there is a good chance he used chemical fuels combusting to propel his Tesla (ignoring of course, the massive combustion engines needed to loft it into orbit in first place).

      So... is this the first Tesla powered by internal combustion? :-D

      1. Matthew Taylor

        >So... is this the first Tesla powered by internal combustion? :-D

        External combustion, surely?

        1. Ogi
          Flame

          > External combustion, surely?

          I would say no. In a rocket engine, there is a combustion chamber, where combustion happens. That is internal, so rocket engines are internal combustion engines.

          Just that rather than acting against a piston, which converts the energy into motion (like in your car), the exhaust gasses propel the payload by blasting straight out of the exhaust nozzle, and letting Newtons laws do the rest.

          Essentially internal combustion is defined by the working fluid being acted upon directly. For example, a car engines working fluid is air, which is directly heated by mixing with fuel and igniting, and that does work on a piston that gives you power.

          External combustion engines work indirectly on the working fluid via a heat exchanger. For example, a steam engines working fluid is water, but you are heating air, which then heats the water via a heat exchanger (the boiler), that then does work (as steam).

          Icon cause, fire, combustion and rocketry! :-D

  5. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Devil

    queue 'Lost in Space' theme

    or maybe the 'Major Tom Revisited' from the 80's

    was that in the selection on the Tesla convertible's dashboard? (still playing the David Bowie 'Major Tom' probably, still appropriate)

    1. Spoonsinger

      Umm shirley.....

      Heavy Metal (the film), intro

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MyfInT1y0c

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Umm shirley.....

        "or maybe the 'Major Tom Revisited' from the 80's"

        do you mean "Major Tom (Coming Home)" by Peter Schilling.

        as used in excellent cold war drama Deutschland 83? (and Breaking Bad)

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIlUj9J3quM

        or did Mr Bowie do some sort of remix?

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Umm shirley.....

          A certain Mr Jonathon King did a mix\mashup of both Bowie & Schilling songs as I recall, I don't think he threw in Ashes to Ashes.

          https://www.discogs.com/Jonathan-King-Space-Oddity-Major-Tom-Coming-Home/release/4118108

    2. d3vy Silver badge

      Re: queue 'Lost in Space' theme

      I thought it was playing "life on mars"?

      Certainly was playing over the launch footage I saw.

  6. JassMan Silver badge
    Trollface

    Probably the old lb vs Kg problem

    Kerb weight of a Roadster is about 2870 lbs but someone probably programmed the delivery module that it had a 2870 Kg load instead of 1305Kg.

  7. Alistair Silver badge
    Joke

    Elon having us on a bit perhaps?

    "Typically with a new rocket, they launch a block of concrete and that's so boring."

    Or is he just plugging another one of his multibillion dollar making ventures here?

    /s

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Elon having us on a bit perhaps?

      Whatever he is doing the marketing and commercial directors in Ford, GM, Toyota, VW, ULA, Roskosmos and Arianaspace probably need new desks after yesterday. The ones they have have way too many bite-marks and/or fist dents.

      1. ArrZarr Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Elon having us on a bit perhaps?

        I think a space program is beyond even the most salubrious marketing budgets.

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: Elon having us on a bit perhaps?

          I think a space program is beyond even the most salubrious marketing budgets.

          You are seriously underestimating VW or Ford marketing budgets. VW advertising (without other marketing efforts accounted for) budget is TWICE the annual turnover of ArianeSpace.

          1. ArrZarr Silver badge

            Re: Elon having us on a bit perhaps?

            Actually, I was seriously overestimating the cost of a space programme if what you say is true.

          2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
            Pirate

            Re: Elon having us on a bit perhaps?

            VW advertising (without other marketing efforts accounted for) budget is TWICE the annual turnover of ArianeSpace.

            Was.

            There are now all those pesky fines and such for fudging their emissions tests. Naughty, naughty!

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Elon having us on a bit perhaps?

              "There are now all those pesky fines and such for fudging their emissions tests. Naughty, naughty!"

              So, that means they probably upped the advertising budget. Lots of damage control needed.

    2. Alistair Silver badge

      Re: Elon having us on a bit perhaps?

      Someone *did* mention this was a tough crowd.......

      Yeesh.

  8. corestore

    Asteroid belt?

    I think that's exactly where Elon wants to be - he wants to be a Belter!

    1. Michael Hoffmann

      Re: Asteroid belt?

      Da koyo de im bosmang gut, sasa!

      (I think that's correct...)

      1. TRT Silver badge
      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Asteroid belt?

      Disrespect Mars and I'll go through you like a door.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Asteroid belt?

        Has he got enough change for the parking meteor?

  9. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Big Brother

    "It was kind of silly and fun, but silly things are important"

    Ah, the advantages of not having to do tech in massive "state industries" where everyone needs to cover his/her arse, all the time, because humorless bureaucrats fighting the wrong kind of publicity and vote-chasing parliamentarians ready to whip up outrage WILL ruin your day stalinistically

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      I hear it's a laugh a minute down at HPE, IBM, DXC, etc...

      1. A. Coatsworth

        @Dan 55

        I'm quite sure it was fun at HP when Hewlett and Packard were at the helm... you know, before it became yet another faceless corporation...

        I guess that when (and if) SpaceX starts answering to shareholders and not to a single (crazy) man, it will also lose the funny bone. In the meantime, at least we can enjoy Musk's shenanigans and see the envelope being pushed at the same time..

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge

          > SpaceX starts answering to shareholders

          And that is precisely why Musk has said SpaceX isn't going public for a long, long time, if ever. I have a feeling it's a "over my dead body" statement.

          1. Outski

            DD Harriman quandary

            You can be damn sure no shareholders would ever approve Elon himself going up in a rocket

        2. Adam 52 Silver badge

          "fun at HP"

          HP had a reputation as being a great place to work well into the 1990s. And then Carly took over and destroyed it.

    2. The Nazz Silver badge

      Indeed.

      The other thought i had on watching the videos, was how utterly amazing it all was.

      So much successful science and engineering on so little diversity.

    3. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Yeah! Like those humorless Canadian bureaucrats...

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaOC9danxNo

  10. tjdennis2

    Auto drive probably only works if it can see the lane markings...

    1. Michael Hoffmann
      Joke

      Won't these work?

      http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HyperspaceLanes

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      The problem in space is that the paint lines keep disappearing.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        What do you do if you see a spaceman...

        Park in it, man.

  11. Maelstorm
    Trollface

    I think we just came up with a new kids show...

    Anyone remember Muppets in Space? How about Cars in Space? We can make some personalities from the Cars movie franchise.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: I think we just came up with a new kids show...

      I thought it was "Pigs in Spaccccccceeeeeeee" on the Muppet Show.

      Just checked... yep.. "pigs"

      1. 's water music Silver badge

        Re: I think we just came up with a new kids show...

        I thought it was "Pigs in Spaccccccceeeeeeee" on the Muppet Show.

        Indeed, but perhaps the PP had Muppets From Space in mind. Not one of their better efforts.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Gimp

          Re: I think we just came up with a new kids show...

          Muppets in Space may have been my initial reaction to Farscape - I fact I didn't clue up on until the start of Season 3 as to how good it actually was.

          Icon looks like Scorpuis's nightwear.

  12. Queeg
    Alien

    I can see the accident report now...

    Name. Asta Roid

    Accident Location. Outside the orbit of Mars

    Claimants Statement. I was just following the route I use every day and this Red car came out of nowhere.

    1. The Nazz Silver badge

      Re: I can see the accident report now...

      You should have seen the prequel.

      "Hello, i'd like an insurance quote, please(1)"

      "Certainly sir, what model of car do you have?

      "A Tesla Roadster"

      "Hmm, nice, and what is your annual mileage likely to be?"

      "Oh, about 1.6 trillion miles."

      A pause.

      "Hello, hello, are you still there, i'd like that quote please"

      (1) I know, i know, such an old fashioned quaint word.

      1. kventin

        Re: I can see the accident report now...

        """Oh, about 1.6 trillion miles."""

        long scale or short scale?

    2. jimbo60

      Re: I can see the accident report now...

      "and this red car came out of nowhere...and did not even try to stop"

  13. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
    Trollface

    Wait until the Chinese hacks into your system and steals everything and then we'll see who's smiling.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Given Musk just wants humanity to create a sustainable colony on Mars, he wouldn't be too upset if the Chinese stole the baton and ran with it. Remember that he's going to make his Giga-factories open source.

      Besidee, a big hurdle was merely proving that this approach works and that is now clearly public. For the medium term, the US surveillance agencies won't be paying a Chinese company to launch their spy satellites.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Mars Colony

        If it happened or survived a Mars Colony would be parasitical on Earth resources. An undersea colony is more viable.

        Musk has read and been influenced by too much SF that has more Fantasy than Science.

        The problem is greed and corruption here. Look at how sending people to the now USA worked out. He wants to export that and have Earth fund it?

        1. Colabroad

          Re: Mars Colony

          Nah, deep sea colonies are against the terms of the Benthic treaty, and we want to keep Blue Hades on our side for now.

        2. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

          Re: Mars Colony

          How does the undersea colony protect humankind against a "dinosaur extinction" asteroid collision?

          I think it unwise to assume that Elon Musk is not at least averagely smart...

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Mars Colony

            How does a colony on Mars, which will be totally dependent on the Earth for survival into the foreseeable future, protect humankind against a "dinosaur extinction" asteroid collision?

            1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

              Re: Mars Colony

              "totally dependent on the Earth"

              well its not a colony then , its a camping trip.

              I guess to insure against big easteroid death ( the absolute LEAST of my worries) you'd have to take a load of mother earth off the planet - "Silent Running" style.

      2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        " create a sustainable colony on Mars"

        We cant even create a sustainable colony on this planet.

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      The Chinese have developed their own rockets. They are competitive with other disposable rockets and have achieved 75 consecutive successful launches. If they had all the manufacturing data for Falcon Heavy today they would need to spend years working out how to build one. For example this is what happens when a strut is not manufactured consistently to requirements.

      By the time the Chinese had a reliable Falcon Heavy they would be competing with BFR. They would be better off adapting their own kit for re-use because they understand it thoroughly and can build it consistently.

  14. DMoy

    And you didn't hear him coming because it's electric. Right??

  15. far2much4me

    I'm Impressed!

    This roadster is going over 54 million km on a single charge.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: I'm Impressed!

      This roadster is going over 54 million km on a single charge.

      And setting some speed records for cars also. Not sure if they'll actually be accepted by the major speed organizations for the record books, but they should be, IMO.

    2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: I'm Impressed!

      "This roadster is going over 54 million km on a single charge."

      Supposedly it will orbit the sun for 1 billion years, so I think it will go a bit further than that.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: I'm Impressed!

        Hey, it did the Tesla run in under 12 parsecs.

  16. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "rapid, unscheduled disassembly,"

    C'mon guys ! I can't believe no one didn't pick up this gem.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: "rapid, unscheduled disassembly,"

      That phrase goes back a long way before SpaceX.

      1. ArrZarr Silver badge

        Re: "rapid, unscheduled disassembly,"

        Total Inability To Stand UPright (after landing)?

    2. Cartimand

      Re: "rapid, unscheduled disassembly,"

      As a tester at HP many moons ago, I recall when we were ordered to stop referring to "crashes" in our bug reports and employ the euphemism "unexpected return to login" instead.

      1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: "rapid, unscheduled disassembly,"

        Oh, so that's where URL came from

      2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: "rapid, unscheduled disassembly,"

        " I recall when we were ordered to stop referring to "crashes" "

        That must have been when the fun police moved in as per the discussion a few comments up

  17. derfer

    Maybe coming back

    Is it just me or does that trajectory look like it’s coming back to earth eventually?

    1. Chronos Silver badge

      Re: Maybe coming back

      It probably would have been better to launch a few old Trabants. Those things are notoriously difficult¹ to get rid of and Elon would finally be doing something useful. It would also give the aliens a good laugh...

      ¹ The body is made from cotton and resin, the same phenolic resin that used to be used for PCBs that gave off that distinctive old electronics smell. It never rots, it's toxic and it doesn't biodegrade, hence it hangs around for longer than Keith Richards. This is what happens when you get too "clever" and mix tech with transport.

    2. Wandering Reader

      Re: Maybe coming back

      "Is it just me or does that trajectory look like it’s coming back to earth eventually?"

      It should return to about the same place it was when the boost ended, to complete it's orbit. Except: (1) Perturbations from earth's gravity will affect the orbit further in the first days of travel. (2) It's not orbiting in the plane of the ecliptic. (3) the earth will be somewhere else when it gets back.

      So we are probably safe enough.

  18. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Alien

    Tyre (tire) pressure

    If the tyres had two bar on Earth I presume they would have three bar in space. So, if I'm correct, deflating them to one bar before launch should get the correct pressure in space.

    Those space police are fussy about things like that, the fine for defective tyres is 500 Zorg!

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Tyre (tire) pressure

      Yes, you would be correct. Even easier would be to inflate them to 2 bar(a) on earth. Then they'd be at 2 bar(a) in space. Screw that confusing bar(g) crap, who gives a diddly about earths atmospheric pressure.

  19. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
    Pint

    Missed opportunity

    The central stage was just interviewing for another of Musk's companies...

    I can fly

    Here's that car

    Look, I can dig a tunnel too

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Missed opportunity

      Underground, overground...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Missed opportunity

        Bastard! That song is stuck in my head now!

  20. imanidiot Silver badge

    There's some hidden agenda here

    The orbit is in the wrong plane/inclination too. I get a feeling they're aiming for something, and just not telling us what yet. Then in 2 years time they'll be all "Look, we landed a Tesla Roadster on a freakin' asteroid!".

  21. Kirstian K
    Alien

    no one has mentioned

    The Dead body in the boot yet..... Tut Tut Mr Musk....

    1. willi0000000

      Re: no one has mentioned

      who cares about thee boot . . . look in the suit!

      [ has anyone seen Bezos lately? ]

    2. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: no one has mentioned

      That's because we were all distracted by the dead body in the space suit.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: no one has mentioned

        Hey! Who turned out the lights?

  22. Martijn Otto

    The Tesla Roadster

    Now sporting free interplanetary delivery. Place your orders now!

  23. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Well done putting a negative slant in the headline on the most stunning space age show since the moon landings. (The synchronised landing of the boosters, was the best part. Not long ago landing rockets on earth was unheard of.)

  24. ZanzibarRastapopulous

    Years from now...

    ...a small red lump of metal bumps an asteroid out of the quiet little orbit it had been enjoying since it's brother went off to play with the dinosaurs, and nudges it into a more exciting path...

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Years from now...

      "a small red lump of metal bumps an asteroid out of the quiet little orbit"

      That's why we need to be a multi-planetary spices. Well, that and releasing all that carbon into the atmosphere. And Trump.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Years from now...

        That's why we need to be a multi-planetary spices.

        Neptunian nutmeg, Mercurial mustard, Martian mint, juniper from Jupiter, Saturnian saffron and Plutonian pepper.

        1. Alistair Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Years from now...

          @Stoneshop:

          And MAN those Plutonian Peppers are hard (to grow) on Uranus.

          1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

            Re: Years from now...

            > "And MAN those Plutonian Peppers are hard (to grow) on Uranus."

            Well that's just silly, you should be growing mushrooms on Uranus.

      2. Colabroad

        Re: Years from now...

        The Spice must flow!

  25. Jos V

    Speeding ticket...

    Did El-Reg miss the part where WA police send Elon Musk a speeding ticket? :-)

    https://twitter.com/WA_Police/status/961057061042704384/photo/1

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Speeding ticket...

      Reminiscent of when Grumman sending Lockheed a bill for towing after Apollo 13 ...

      http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/space-centers/kennedy-space-center/the-apollo-13-invoice/

  26. jonfr

    Might hit Mars in 200 million years

    I haven't found any maps for this yet. But I was doing a calculations in my head and the car might hit Mars in 200 million years, at that point it has the greatest chance of doing so. If that does not happen the car is going to get booted out of the solar system by Jupiter and Saturn gravity.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Might hit Mars in 200 million years

      If you're even within an order of magnitude of being correct, then kudos for doing that in your head!

  27. teknopaul Silver badge

    tripping what

    Can someone fill me in on the tripping balls thing? Some nee type of Californian microdots?

    1. Tempest8008
      Angel

      Re: tripping what

      http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/tripping-balls

      Basically he's saying he's high.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    idiot space do gooders

    all this bollox about contaminating mars,splattican 5,or wherever seems to miss the point that

    all life on earth probably got started by some pesky contamination.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: idiot space do gooders

      And if you contaminate Mars (or any of the other planets and moons) you won't ever know for sure whether there is, or was, contamination from elsewhere.

  29. Tempest8008

    So much for range anxiety on that Roadster...

  30. keith_w
    Alien

    Missing the expected heliocentric orbit

    Obviously it needs an over the air update to the maps.

  31. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
    Devil

    Yesterday, SpaceX launched its powerful Falcon Heavy, with the boss's ride strapped on top.

    Something Simon will be aspiring to one of these days!

    PS : Can we have a BOFH icon? Please?

  32. rfrovarp

    Not going to asteroid belt

    His orbit picture in the tweet was off. With a C3=12, it's only getting to basically Mars, ending up far short of the asteroid belt. https://twitter.com/planet4589/status/961476629976535040

  33. unwarranted triumphalism

    Looks like Tesla owners are not content with running over Eathbound pedestrians, they're looking for extrterrestrials ones as well.

  34. AceRimmer1980
    Alien

    But sir

    The chances of anything going to Mars are a million to one.

    "Never tell me the odds."

    1. Kingbob

      Re: But sir

      Yeah but Million to One chances work 9 times out of 10.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Space junk jalopy

    Not content with polluting our oceans and atmosphere, while surrounding our planet with space junk. We are now witnessing what is planned for all those electric vehicle batteries that will be a toxic headache. Musk will just dump it all in space and avoid the recycle cost and pollution tax.

    1. AgeingBabyBoomer

      Re: Space junk jalopy

      Musk has solved the earthly problem of landfill by creating space-fill. He must have been watching Blue Planet...

  36. AgeingBabyBoomer

    Not so green?

    So how much of the fossil fuel saved by his self-crashing cars has been burned instead putting just one of them into space, this cynical mind wonders?

    1. unwarranted triumphalism

      Re: Not so green?

      How much fossil fuel are you going to save by giving up your car? What's that you say? You're not going to?

      Didn't think so.

  37. jake Silver badge

    It occurs to me the title may be prophetic ...

    "Steers to Asteroids" ...

    Nobody's going to be growing beef anywhere outside Earth's atmosphere for a very, very long time. It occurs to me that shipping steers (half or whole) outside our home gravity well might be a seriously profitable business sometime in the next 100 years ... Dried beef is all very well and good, but there's nothing like a nice rare steak! And then to really clean up, start actually farming beef on Mars or the Moon.

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