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Will Starman return past Earth? Surely SpaceX just can't say whoops, sorry, we missed our Mars orbit target and there's a chance Starman will come back near earth down the track?

Does SpaceX submit all its plans to NASA? or who governs free space?

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StarMan will not be orbiting Mars. He was never intended to orbit Mars.

Initially, data indicated that StarMan, in his cherry-red Tesla Roadster, would reach an orbit outside that of Mars (nearing the asteroid belt). Further research concluded that StarMan is set to overshoot the orbit of Mars before stabilizing his orbit around the Sun.

StarMan's next closest approach with his home planet will be in 2020 at a distance of 28 million miles.

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    $\begingroup$ Where does the information about the 28 million kilometer approach in 2020 come from? Can you add a link for the source? I'm seeing about 40 million kilometers in early 2021 using this and data from NASA. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Feb 8, 2018 at 15:44
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    $\begingroup$ I also am not seeing anything that close until 2021. $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Feb 9, 2018 at 2:36
  • $\begingroup$ The timing posted here is close to whereisroadster, which (currently) gives the next closest approach as August 4th 2020, at 0.346 AU (52 million kilometers or 32 million miles). Whether that site's using the most accurate orbital estimate available or not is hard to tell for certain, according to the FAQ it was regularly automatically fetching tracking data updates from JPL (which may no longer be available); whether its orbital model is reasonably accurate without tracking updates and makes solid long-term predictions is less clear. $\endgroup$ Jun 19, 2018 at 23:49

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