Musk Reads: Elon Musk hints at first Starship payload

The Starship’s interior is shown on video; experts raise concerns about radiation; and the Crew Dragon prepares for liftoff.

The Starship’s interior is shown on video; experts raise concerns about radiation; and the Crew Dragon prepares for liftoff. It’s Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #110.

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

Musk quote of the week

“Probably Starlink 🛰 & some fun things”

SpaceX Starship

What does the Starship interior look like? Not much, according to a video shared by Musk on Twitter. The CEO gave fans a glimpse at the inside of the Mk 1 full-size prototype, which was unveiled to an audience at the Boca Chica launch facility in Texas. The barren sides may not look like much, but it’s what venture capital firm founder Rick Tumlinson described as a “Mayflower-class spaceship.” That means it can transport 100 people into space at a time, potentially enabling humans to move out to distant planets en masse and establish a multi-planetary species. It’s all set to take place inside those stainless steel walls. Read more.

Musk might not have given enough information about protecting humans from radiation, according to experts speaking to The Verge last week. Dorit Donoviel, director for NASA partner the Translational Research Institute for Space Health, went so far as to describe the idea of a trip to Mars in the 2020s as “extremely naive.” Musk has previously dismissed radiation as “not a big deal,” but suggested in October 2018 that the Starship would include a solar storm shelter for added protection. Rice University professor Scott Solomon previously told Inverse that the heightened radiation could mutate DNA faster, changing the humans living and working in the nascent city.

In other SpaceX news…

NASA’s newest discovery could protect mega-constellations like SpaceX Starlink. The internet connectivity constellation is planned to eventually number over 10,000, around double the number of satellites orbiting the Earth as a whole. A new machine learning experiment, which creates a virtual component for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, could protect satellites by measuring extreme ultraviolet radiation coming from the sun that can damage satellites. Ph.D. student Alexandre Szenicer, one of the paper’s authors, told Inverse that “Starlink’s satellites, given their altitude (550km), are subject to atmospheric drag … therefore, it is very important for the operators to have a good understanding of the dynamics of the thermosphere/ionosphere, for which information about the EUV spectral irradiance is crucial.” Read more.

The Crew Dragon is gearing up for an in-flight abort test. The Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule designed for the test arrived at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The test will involve firing the eight SuperDraco thrusters during launch to move the craft away from the Falcon 9. It will be triggered during the maximum aerodynamic pressure point, around one minute after launch, to show that the craft could protect the crew from a malfunctioning booster. Documents suggest the launch could take place no earlier than November 23. Following a successful test, SpaceX is expected to host its first manned test mission. Read more.

What’s next for SpaceX: SpaceX is set to launch another set of 60 Starlink satellites for its internet connectivity constellation no earlier than October 17. It’s expected to take off from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Musk Reads mailroom

Stephen Russell writes:

  • Hope SpaceX can produce boosters also in California, give SpaceX three sites: Florida, Texas and California.

Musk stated at the Starship Mk 1 launch that Florida and Texas sites would be used to produce a stack of prototype ships. Unfortunately for California-based space fans, SpaceX moved its Starship development out of Los Angeles in January 2019 to “streamline” operations. For now, with SpaceX deciding whether to launch the ships from Texas or Florida, it seems California production is off the cards.

Video of the week

YouTuber “Everyday Astronaut” chats with Musk about the Starship and the future.

The Elonporium

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The ultra-fine print

This has been Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #110, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Mike Brown, an innovation journalist for Inverse.

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