The third and final burn worked too well and means the Roadster will overshoot its planned Mars orbit.
Yesterday, SpaceX made history by successfully launching the world’s most powerful rocket with a Tesla Roadster as a payload. The launch captured the world’s attention, amazed everyone with that synchronized rocket landing, and left Elon Musk tripping out. However, it wasn’t completely without fault.
While we saw two rockets land perfectly, the center core was only seen descending. SpaceX later confirmed that the center core had been lost as it missed its landing platform.
— Drew King (@King_Drew16) February 6, 2018
SpaceX will gather all the data, learn why it happened, and fix the problem for next time.
The second problem can’t really be fixed. As The Verge reports, following a six hour cruise phase, the engine bolted to the back of the Roadster carried out a third and final burn. The burn happened, but ended up being a little too successful and exceeded the Mars orbit. So rather than ending up at Mars, the Roadster is on course to visit an asteroid belt and will pass by the dwarf planet Ceres.
Third burn successful. Exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt. pic.twitter.com/bKhRN73WHF
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 7, 2018
There is still a lot of data to crunch before we will be told exactly what path the car will now follow. The infinite elliptical orbit between Mars and the sun doesn’t look like it can happen anymore, though.
SpaceX and Musk can’t be too upset by this as the most important parts of the mission went extremely well. The team proved they can build and launch the world’s most powerful rocket and carry payloads into deep space.