Musk Reads: Elon Musk Prices a Return Ticket to Mars

Plus, Tesla unveils Sentry Mode and the Raptor engine reaches new energy levels.

Musk names his price for a return ticket to Mars; Tesla Sentry Mode rolls up closer; and SpaceX’s Raptor engine reaches new power levels. It’s Musk Reads #65.

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

Musk Quote of the Week

“Low enough that most people in advanced economies could sell their home on Earth & move to Mars if they want.”

Read more about Musk’s ticket idea here.

Tesla Model 3.
Tesla Model 3.

Tesla

Tesla is rolling out two new key features this week. The first, Sentry Mode, offers protection against intruders, the name likely a reference to the Iron Man suit in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Another, known as Dog Mode, makes the car safer for owners who leave their pets in the car. It’s one of the first major changes since Navigate on Autopilot started turning off at the correct exit back in November 2018. Read more.

Tesla's Dog Mode in action.

Tesla’s autonomous car technology could roll out sooner than many expect. Arcady Sosinov, CEO of electric car charger firm FreeWire Technologies, claimed in an interview with Inverse this week that Tesla is “being a little bit coy” about its capabilities, with the firm “closer [to full autonomy] than what people expect.” Musk claims the feature will be safe enough “probably toward the end of this year.” Read more.

What’s next for Tesla: Tesla is now shipping the Model 3 internationally, having enjoyed big success in North America. Musk stated this week that he’s visiting locations in the Netherlands and Norway to ensure the firm’s European rollout goes smoothly.

More Tesla reads from this week:

  • EVs: Researchers Find a Key Flaw Limiting Fast Charging Battery Performance. Read more.
SpaceX starman
SpaceX's Starman.

SpaceX

SpaceX has set a new record with its Raptor engine. The design, which already reached sufficient energy levels last week, has surpassed the Russian-made RD-180 engine in terms of pressure, reaching 269 bar. The eventual rocket is designed to send humans to Mars and transform humanity into a planet-hopping species thanks to the use of liquid oxygen and methane propellant. Musk explained this week that the ship will press its tanks autogenously from the first version. Read more.

Musk also revealed more information about his plans for pricing a ticket to Mars. The CEO stated he was “confident” the company could charge somewhere around $500,000 for a return, possibly dropping to under $100,000. Musk previously explained that the company would need to bring the cost down to the median price of a house in the United States to make the prospect attractive, which at the time was $200,000. The offer would enable SpaceX to develop multiple cities on the red planet. Read more.

What’s Next for SpaceX: The firm is expected to start “hop tests” with the test version of its Starship in the coming weeks, delayed due to a storm blowing the “Hopper” vehicle over last month. Musk claims the new design has enabled a faster launch schedule, with an orbital Starship set for unveiling as early as June.

Musk in Pop Culture

Is Musk about to appear on Meme Review? Fans of the PewDiePie-hosted YouTube show have been pressing Musk to appear and weigh in on the memes of the day. On Monday, Musk responded to PewDiePie by stating that he “had a vital mission in Norway” as part of his rollout of the Tesla Model 3 to European markets, but “now I am back.” Although Musk has made no secret of his interest in internet culture, having sold Boring Company hats based on a reference to the ‘80s sci-fi comedy Spaceballs, he seemed to ratchet this up further when he bought stankmemes.com earlier this month.

More Musk reads from this week:

  • SpaceX Executive Teases Mysterious 2019 Rocket Launches: What They Could Be. Read more.

Photo of the Week

The Tesla Model 3 is shipping out to Europe:

The Ultra-Fine Print

This has been Musk Reads #65, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Mike Brown, an innovation journalist for Inverse.

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A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.