The most punitive publicity stunt of the past decade will receive a Russian sequel a year and a half later. The seventy-meter-high Falcon Heavy rocket from Elon Musk’s space company SpaceX shot a red Tesla Roadster into space early February 2018.
The Russian company ToSky took a much more modest approach: a toy Lada, dangling at a helium balloon, reached an altitude of 20 kilometers in the stratosphere.
On board the Lada no Starman, the dummy in the space suit, but the cardboard image of Dmitry Rogozin, a former Deputy Prime Minister who has been in charge of Roskosmos since last year, the Russian counterpart of NASA.
In a poll that promoters had issued ToSky, he came out as the winner. The man who once stated that it was better for NASA to send astronauts to the International Space Station by a trampoline, got it from a photo of Stephen Hawking and a cactus.
The helium balloon with the Lada took off near the city of Tomsk and reached a height of twenty kilometers. The balloon then flew away, upon which the parachute unfolded and caused a trouble-free fall.
The cart landed 150 kilometers and was not damaged, ToSky speaks of a successful test that enables them to perform more and better flights in the future.