NOW no-one can ignore it

the product’s selling fine

The night they turned the moon

into a Coca-Cola sign.

A few decades ago the words of this poem, by Roger McGough, would have been greeted with mild amusement.

Now the idea voiced in it, of exploiting ‘the possibilities in space’ and transporting miles of neon tubing to the moon to create a giant lunar advert, seems disturbingly prophetic.

The sending into space of a car was greeted with cheers. I can’t for the life of me understand why.

The vehicle, sent on the whim of billionaire Elon Musk, was blasted beyond the atmosphere on the back of a rocket, to be left to fly past Mars - the planet that this ridiculously wealthy man hopes to colonise one day through his space exploration company SpaceX.

Not satisfied with turning our own planet into a rubbish dump, now we are filling space with our litter too.

The convertible car, with its dummy driver called ‘Starman’, is just adding to the growing amount of space junk flying aimlessly around.

One of the most shocking sights I have ever seen in a newspaper was a double page spread showing the ring of space junk surrounding Earth. It’s a ring of scrap metal circling the planet. It’s a wonder any rocket can get up there without crashing into some bit of debris.

More than 500,000 pieces of space junk are tracked as they orbit the Earth. The rest - and there’s a lot of it - is non-trackable and provides the greatest risk to space missions.

Commenting on the launch, one scientist worried the car would hit Mars, damaging the surface. Thankfully, it overshot and is on a new orbit. Anyone on board the International Space Station had better watch out.

As for future colonisation of Mars, pity the poor planet. There’s not much there, but what there is, we are bound to destroy. Like Earth, Mars has a North and South Pole covered in ice. If melted, it would be sufficient to cover the entire surface to a depth of 36 feet. If Man settled there it doesn’t take rocket science to work out what would happen. We would do the same we have done to our own planet and pollute it until the climate and environment changed beyond repair.

We would mine it to the hilt, and litter it as we have our own world - it would not be long before every crater and canyon would be full of Budweiser cans, take-away cartons and crumpled fag packets. The planet would be a fly-tipper’s paradise, with its famous red dust billowing over discarded mattresses and fridges. And now China won’t accept our plastic waste, Mars would be the ideal dumping ground for all the stuff we love to use but can’t or won’t recycle.

If humans were to get so much as a toehold up there the outlook for the red planet would not be good at all.

We’ve managed to pollute almost every piece of Earth, from the highest mountain - which is strewn with old climbing equipment, discarded rubbish and human waste - to the deepest ocean: scientists from Newcastle University discovered that every crustacean surveyed at the bottom of the six-mile-deep Mariana Trench, in the Pacific Ocean, had man-made debris in its body.

We should not be applauding the first car ‘driving’ through space, we should be utterly horrified by it.