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Elon Musk's Tesla Missed Mars Orbit After Successful Falcon Heavy Launch

Elon Musk's cherry red Roadster launched with SpaceX's Falcon Heavy on Feb. 6, 2018. Courtesy of SpaceX

Elon Musk has encountered a glitch in his plan to send a red Tesla Roadster into orbit around Mars after a successful launch aboard the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.

Musk tweeted late on Tuesday that the rocket carrying his Tesla exceeded its target and is now on its way to an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. He included a map showing where the car was supposed to end up and where it’s actually headed—near the orbit of the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt.

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Musk’s announcement came hours after the successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The rocket, which is the world’s largest and capable of carrying more than 140,000 pounds of cargo, is ferrying the Tesla and its passenger, a mannequin SpaceX calls Starman. The launch, the first test of the Falcon Heavy rocket, is intended to pave the way for future SpaceX missions.

The fate of Starman and the Tesla is unclear. The capsule could remain in an orbit around the asteroid belt, be demolished by an asteroid, or continue into deep space. Musk has posted no further updates since his tweet last night.

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