SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s ambitious space move in February 2018 made headlines in after the private American aerospace company launched a cherry-red Tesla car (Roadster) into space on a rocket to Mars. Now, a team of Russian scientists is making a mockery of Musk by sending a red toy car into space last week.
While SpaceX launched a full-sized car into orbit with a dummy “Starman” behind the vehicle’s wheel, Russia’s Tomsk State University researchers sent a toy car that’s a replica of red Zhiguli owned by the country’s Roscosmos space agency head, Dmitry Rogozin who is not trash-talking Musk. In a YouTube video shared by the team on Tuesday, the toy Zhiguli replica could be seen in a trip to the stratosphere with a cutout of a smiling Rogozin placed in the driver’s seat.
Similar to Falcon Heavy’s groundbreaking flight, which crowns it the world’s most powerful operational rocket, the team from Tomsk University also set new records with their ToSky project. The mockery space flight is recognized as the longest “stratostat” flight by any nation in the former Soviet Union since 2013, according to the Moscow Times. The project racked up as much as 16 hours of flight with Rogozin’s red Zhiguli.
The university team’s flight took place on June 2, traveling at a speed of 80 49 mph (km/h). The team pushed beyond the Karman line (62 miles above the earth’s standard starting point of space) by far having achieved a total height of 93.2 miles (150km). The toy car landed 1,243 miles (2,000 km) away from its take-off point, between China and Mongolia.
Only a few probably expected Musk to send his personal car Tesla Roadster into space when the SpaceX CEO first announced in March 2017 that he would send the “silliest thing we can imagine” on Falcon Heavy’s voyage.
The Falcon Heavy packs more thrust than the Falcon 9 rocket the company uses to launch satellites into space for customers. It is almost 3 times more powerful than the Falcon 9 which has a single core for sending 50,265 pounds of payload to low-Earth orbit. The Falcon Heavy can launch up to 140,660 pounds of payload into space using its three cores which generates over 5 million pounds of thrust.
Musk’s Roadster continues to travel in its orbit, moving away from Earth at a speed of about 14,000 mph. The dummy behind the wheels of Roadster is almost 200 million miles from Earth and continues to beef up the rivalry between Roscosmos and Musk.