back to article Sorry, Elon, your Tesla roadster won't orbit for billions of years

Explaining why he used his Tesla roadster as the test mass on his Falcon Heavy launch, Elon Musk remarked that he liked the idea of it orbiting for a billion years. If the car endures, a bunch of astroboffins from Canada and the Czech Republic reckon it's going to last just a mere few tens of millions of years. Running the …

  1. JJKing Silver badge
    Alien

    1 Billion or 1 Million, seriously who bloody cares?

    In the next couple of hundred years, space explorers will retrieve the Tesla and mount it on a plinth at the Mars Spaceport as a dedication to Musk. Starman will finally be revealed as Jimmy Hoffa or Lord Lucan and the mystery will be solved.

    As for us presently alive who witnessed this event, the difference between a BEEEELLION years of orbit or a few Tens of MEEELLION years means diddly shit to our long disintegrated corpses.

    1. m0rt Silver badge

      Re: 1 Billion or 1 Million, seriously who bloody cares?

      "a few Tens of MEEELLION years means diddly shit to our long disintegrated corpses."

      For you, maybe. I fully intend to live forever.

      1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: 1 Billion or 1 Million, seriously who bloody cares?

        I intend to live forever, or die trying.

        1. m0rt Silver badge

          Re: 1 Billion or 1 Million, seriously who bloody cares?

          Defeatist.

        2. Qwertius

          Re: 1 Billion or 1 Million, seriously who bloody cares?

          I am dead already --- but the Gods keep granting me 'eternal life'.

          Can someone get me out of their programming loop.

          I want some peace & f*cking quite. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

      2. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: 1 Billion or 1 Million, seriously who bloody cares?

        For you, maybe. I fully intend to live forever.

        Eh, about that nick of yours ...

        1. m0rt Silver badge

          Re: 1 Billion or 1 Million, seriously who bloody cares?

          Who *cough* WHO SAID IT WAS A NICKNAME?

      3. Chemical Bob

        Re: 1 Billion or 1 Million, seriously who bloody cares?

        "I fully intend to live forever."

        Let me know how that works for you.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: 1 Billion or 1 Million, seriously who bloody cares?

          We all INTEND to live forever. Or die trying!

    2. balrog

      Re: 1 Billion or 1 Million, seriously who bloody cares?

      Starman was the corpse of David Bowie

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: 1 Billion or 1 Million, seriously who bloody cares?

        Starman was the corpse of David Bowie

        Bowie was cremated, so he would be in the ash tray (provided the Roadster has one, not sure there). Starman is, in the proper supervillain tradition, Musk's arch nemesis, Jeff Bezos, and the appearance you've seen since the launch is a hologram run on AWS.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: 1 Billion or 1 Million, seriously who bloody cares?

          "Starman is, in the proper supervillain tradition, Musk's arch nemesis, Jeff Bezos, and the appearance you've seen since the launch is a hologram run on AWS."

          What's his uptime? Asking for a friend -------->

    3. DougS Silver badge

      Re: 1 Billion or 1 Million, seriously who bloody cares?

      Far more likely someone will grab it, put it on eBay2100 and it'll end up in the penthouse of some rich Chinese guy.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 1 Billion or 1 Million, seriously who bloody cares?

      Looking at the predictions and ignoring the headline its got an 87% chance of surviving more than 3 million years. Not bad.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about collisions with spacecraft on the way to Mars

    Airplane air corridor collisions are rare except for takeoff / landing, so are the chances of a crash happening infinitesimal? How much debris is there anyway between Earth and Mars? The other Musk story today (Satellites) referred to the 'Musketeers'! LOL... You Reg journos have too much fun!

    1. Vulch

      Re: What about collisions with spacecraft on the way to Mars

      The Tesla orbit is inclined to the ecliptic by a degree or two so will be above or below traffic travelling between the planets.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about collisions with spacecraft on the way to Mars

      But they missed that the Tesla will be up there for Elon time.

    3. TechnicalBen Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: What about collisions with spacecraft on the way to Mars

      I'm expecting an asteroid field collision, which causes a large chunk to be re-directed (via gravity assists of cause ;) ) to earth.

      We will then be known as bringing the demise of our own tech! Whoops!

      /Only partly sarcastic. But I really really hope someone did a risk assessment before aiming for Ceres!

    4. phuzz Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: What about collisions with spacecraft on the way to Mars

      "so are the chances of a crash happening infinitesimal?"

      Yes.

      See, the thing about space is that it's big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. (etc.)

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: What about collisions with spacecraft on the way to Mars

        You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is

        Ah, but you also have to remember that some space craft will be passing through every point in the universe during some instant. So you are 100% likely to meet another craft if you or it are using the infinite improbability drive.

        Put the kettle on, I fancy a nice hot cup of tea :-)

        1. SalemTheRat

          Re: What about collisions with spacecraft on the way to Mars

          All we can do for you is something almost, but not quite entirely unlike tea.

      2. SalemTheRat

        Re: What about collisions with spacecraft on the way to Mars

        I read this in Steven Fry's voice, then my brain sorted itself out and I heard it in Peter Jones's as is proper.

  3. John Latham

    Tesla commercial strategy

    Phase 1. Prove that an autonomous car can achieve a collision rate per billion vehicle kilometres lower than a human driver.

    ????

    Phase 3. Profit

    1. cavac

      Re: Tesla commercial strategy

      From the June 2050 issue of consumer reports: "After trying to fix the traction control and GPS issues of their space-Tesla for over a thirty years, the Tesla marketing department (the last surviving department of the otherwise long gone and forgotten company) finally gave up and declared chapter 7 bankruptcy".

  4. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Obligatory Hitchhiker reference...

    ...The models suggest that after nearly three million years, there's even a tiny chance it'll dive into the Sun. ®...

    By then it will need to have been painted black, and have gathered a few hitchhikers...

    1. zapgadget

      Re: Obligatory Hitchhiker reference...

      What's the guarantee on the red paint?

    2. Flakk

      Re: Obligatory Hitchhiker reference...

      By then it will need to have been painted black, and have gathered a few hitchhikers...

      "Hey! Starman buddy, how you doing?"

      "Very poorly, I suspect."

  5. onefang Silver badge

    So while they didn't set the controls for the heart of the sun, they might hit it anyway.

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      re: set the controls for the heart of the sun

      I'd have hit the Interstellar Overdrive button and let it keep on going.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: re: set the controls for the heart of the sun

        and by that time the Earth summit of technology will probably be back to the level of a grooving Pict (if we are lucky!)

        1. onefang Silver badge

          Re: re: set the controls for the heart of the sun

          "and by that time the Earth summit of technology will probably be back to the level of a grooving Pict (if we are lucky!)"

          Ah, the first song I had in MP3 format where the title wouldn't fit in the ID3 tag.

      2. onefang Silver badge

        Re: re: set the controls for the heart of the sun

        "I'd have hit the Interstellar Overdrive button and let it keep on going."

        Good idea, otherwise it'll crash into the dark side of the moon.

  6. Adam 1 Silver badge

    > strength of the Yarakovsky effect is ~ 0.05 AU/Myr

    For those of us not familiar with the such domain specific units of measure, what is that in nano-Norris?

    1. smudge Silver badge
      Headmaster

      > strength of the Yarakovsky effect is ~ 0.05 AU/Myr

      AU/Myr is a unit of speed, like m/s or mph. It's certainly not a unit of force.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Boffin

        AU/Myr is a unit of speed

        And 0.05AU/Myr is 7.4798935e+09m per 31556926e+06s, 2.3702858447 mm/s, or 3.9537712e-10 Ssx (Vmax of sheep in vacuum). The Reg Units Converter is unable to calculate this with sufficient precision to yield a number other than zero.

      2. Adam 1 Silver badge

        > It's certainly not a unit of force.

        Someone once told Chuck Norris that he could not be used as a unit of speed. He was henceforth known as smudge.

    2. AS1
      Megaphone

      It's similar to the effect of an individual's vote on government policy.

      Utterly insignificant until the calamity occurs, whereupon it will be blamed wholesale.

      1. The Nazz Silver badge

        And quite right too,

        Even Gordon Brown was entitled to a vote, and thoroughly deserves all the (-ve) credit for the outcome.

  7. Elmer Phud

    What about the . .

    I am waiting for the 'millionaire to crash car in to Earth, untold damage to wildlife expected, sign my petition NOW!' post.

    BUT what if the car misses the earth as the planet is only showing its thin edge and not the full-pizza?

    Or what if it plunges all the way through a thin bit?

    Science, eh? doesn't tell you everything does it?

    1. SalemTheRat

      Re: What about the . .

      As long as it misses the Great A'tuin (and the remaining four elephants).

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Picker's delight

    If we're still around in 1000 years, that car will have long since been snagged and sold as a collectable.

  9. Blofeld's Cat
    Angel

    Hmm ...

    Give it a couple of hundred years or so and there'll be a YouTube video of a Space Police chase...

    "... One occupant wearing a space suit ... failing to stop ... nearly collided with that asteroid ... total disregard for oncoming traffic ... speed 150 Zels ..."

  10. Winkypop Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Crash into Venus you say!

    Seems that Ralph Nader was right.

    Unsafe at any speed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Crash into Venus you say!

      At least that time they can't blame a woman driving... <G>

  11. Christoph Silver badge

    Not a problem

    As it approaches Venus, a Little Green Man will pop up and say "You can't park that there, mate".

  12. Velv Silver badge
    Coat

    Wouldn’t it be funny if that thing that might smash into Earth and destroy all human life turned out to be something we’d sent out there in the first place.

    1. 's water music Silver badge

      Wouldn’t it be funny if that thing that might smash into Earth and destroy all human life turned out to be something we’d sent out there in the first place.

      What would be really funny would be the car landing on Charlton Heston's head on that beach

  13. Magani
    Happy

    Douglas may have been right

    The models suggest that after nearly three million years, there's even a tiny chance it'll dive into the Sun.

    So is that really Desiato Hotblack in the driver's seat? After all, the console screen does say 'Don't Panic'

    1. cavac

      Re: Douglas may have been right

      "Cherry red" just doesn't have the same style as "everything black, including black control lights on a black panel". Shame, really...

      But i guess SpaceX realized early on that making a video of an all black car in front of the vast blackness of space might prove... somewhat difficult.

      1. Mike Richards

        Re: Douglas may have been right

        'everything black, including black control lights on a black panel'

        If you wanted black control lights you need Lucas electricals.

        1. Swarthy Silver badge

          Re: Douglas may have been right

          Well, the thing about a black Tesla - its main distinguishing feature - is it's black. And the thing about space, the colour of space, your basic space colour, is black. So how are you supposed to see it?

          1. Michael Thibault

            Re: Douglas may have been right

            "So how are you supposed to see it?"

            In transit, obviously.

            I'm here all week.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Douglas may have been right

              "In transit, obviously."

              Is that Ford Prefects brother?

    2. apolodoro

      Re: Douglas may have been right

      He's up there spending a few years dead for tax purposes.

    3. Davegoody

      Re: Douglas may have been right

      It's actually Hotblack Desiato, but yes..... I think it is....

      And as for that name, I used to drive past the estate agents that lent Douglas Adams the name, in North London years ago. They then changed their name to Hotblack Dixon, which is somewhat less exotic !

  14. Bob Wheeler
    Trollface

    I hope that....

    they took out collision insurance....

  15. MrKrotos

    New interstellar lap time

    Is the STIG driving it?

    1. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

      Re: New interstellar lap time

      Is the STIG driving it?

      No, SHE does.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: New interstellar lap time

        You cis-normative transphobe!!

  16. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    ♫ "The chances of any car hitting the earth are a million to one he said" ♫

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Is that...

      ...a Terry Pratchett million to one?

  17. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Elon Musk remarked that he liked the idea of it orbiting for a billion years.

    Liking an idea isn't the same as expecting it to happen. I like the idea of having a harem of supermodels but I'd expect the wife to veto it.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      @ Arthur the cat

      The wife might love the idea ... if the supermodels were male

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Billionaries no longer accept millions... they're for losers.

  18. anothercynic Silver badge
    Angel

    Trust science...

    ... To both take the fun out of an off-the-cuff comment, and add more fun into that off-the-cuff comment to see if it leads to actual science.

    I love this field of work. *inserts PMSL icon here*

  19. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Trollface

    A Tesla satellite can last millions-billions of years in space yet a NASA satellite costing hundreds of millions of dollars has a lifespan of >10 years before it's switched off.

  20. dnicholas Bronze badge

    Collision with the Earth isn't much of a problem thanks to our luscious atmosphere, but what about Mars? Would be quite ironic if future Martian settlers were splatted by Musk's car

  21. TopCat62

    I'd feel a lot less worried about collisions if they'd painted it pink....

  22. Chilly8

    I wonder if the roadaster will crash into other debris. When the space shuttle broke up on re-entry in 2003, I crunched some numbers, and calculated some pieces of debris that were big enough would accelerated and flung into space on a 361.48 day elliptical orbit around the sun, with a close approach to earth about every 13 years, The orbit of any shuttle debris flung into space would have an orbit between roughly 4 million and 93 million miles from the sun,

    I wonder what the odds are of the roadster and and shuttle debris flung out into space in 2003 colliding at any one time are, being that they both cross earth's orbit.

    I wish I had the right software to model the orbital dynamics of both the roadster and any shuttle debris that thrown into solar orbit, back in 2003 and find out if there is going to be a collision between someday.

    If any shuttle debris is out there orbiting the sun, there is a chance that it could collide with the roadster someday. I think that is far more probable than the roadster colliding with Earth.

    1. Chris 239

      Please expalin. If you calculated that some of that shuttle, which was obviously no longer at a stable orbital velociy, somehow got accelerated up to earth escape velocity I suspect your math or your assumptions were invalid.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019