Tesla launched into space on Falcon Heavy rocket exceeds Mars' orbit

Vehicle heads toward asteroid belt

By Mark Lehman - Reporter

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The Tesla Roadster launched aboard Tuesday's test flight of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket is heading on a course far past its intended target.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted late Tuesday about the altered trajectory.

"Third burn successful. Exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the asteroid belt," Musk said.

An image included with the tweet showed a trajectory taking the Roadster on a path into the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The new path shows it will be close to the dwarf planet Ceres.

Earlier Tuesday, Musk spoke about what he called a successful first launch of the Falcon Heavy.

"Crazy things can come true," Musk said at a news conference.

Minutes after 27 Merlin engines launched the rocket from Kennedy Space Center, the two side boosters made a simultaneous landing at Canaveral Air Force Station.

"That was epic. That's probably the most exciting thing I've ever seen. Literally. Ever," Musk said.

The center core rocket wasn't as lucky. It was destroyed while trying to land on a barge in the Atlantic Ocean.

"Apparently it hit the water at 300 mph and took out two of the engines on the drone ship," Musk said.

After the rocket reached low-Earth orbit, it completed one final engine burn to send the Roadster into orbit.

Musk originally said the car, with a dummy named "Starman" at the wheel, could be in deep space for billions of years, but its new path could increase the odds of a collision with another space object.

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