What Will Happen To Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster In Space?

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy successfully launched yesterday, and it took SpaceX’s founder and CEO Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster into space. You can even watch the coverage of the red sports car floating in Earth’s orbit. The car is to travel beyond the Red Planet and pass towards the Asteroid Belt.

Musk's Tesla Roadster
Source: Tesla

However, Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster will face various difficulties in space, starting from the radiation from the sun  to a barrage of space dust and junk. William Carroll, Indiana University chemist said that the car is likely not going to survive its first year in space, according to a report in LiveScience.

According to Carrol, there is too much space rock that is unmonitored for the car to avoid. There is a lot of debris which floats through space, starting from micrometeorites to massive asteroids. Even if in the best case scenario, the car avoids collisions with other objects flying in space, there will be many tiny pieces of rock which could cause damage.

Another threat for Musk’s Tesla Roadster is the radiation coming from the sun. The earth is protected by the ozone layer from the sun’s strong radiation entering our atmosphere and jeopardizing everything that lives on it. Earth is also protected by its magnetic field. Unfortunately for the bright red sports car, there is no shield which would protect it.

“All of the organics will be subjected to degradation by the various kinds of radiation that you will run into there,” Carroll told LiveScience.

As a result, the plastic components of the car alongside its carbon-fiber frame would be sentenced to degradation as a result of radiation. There is also a possibility of carbon-carbon reactions and carbon-hydrogen reactions. The intense radiation from the sun can cause those bonds to break which could lead to the car falling apart.

According to Carrol, the bonds can randomly break, followed by all organic compounds of the car to disintegrate, slowly. As soon as the chemical bond breaks, materials of the car will break. Carroll told LiveScience: “Those organics, in that environment, I would give them a year.”

Nevertheless, even Musk said in the press conference that the company didn’t test Tesla roadster’s materials for durability in space. He said: “It’s just literally a normal car in space — I kind of like the absurdity of that.”

If you want to check out the historic journey of the car through space, check out the video.

With the launch yesterday, the rocket carried a passenger in the sports car payload called “Starman.” It is a mannequin wearing a SpaceX designed uniform and will accompany Musk’s Tesla roadster along its journey towards Mars. It is unknown how well the mannequin will hold up in space, although it should certainly be better than any real man without adequate equipment.