Musk Reads: Cybertruck on Mars?

The Crew Dragon test edges closer; a beer firm preps for space; and the Starship Mk.1 bursts during a test.

The Crew Dragon test edges closer; a beer firm preps for space; and the Starship Mk.1 bursts during a test. It’s Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #125.

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Musk quote of the week

“Tesla Cybertruck (pressurized edition) will be official truck of Mars.”

SpaceX

All systems go! SpaceX completed a static test fire Tuesday for the Dragon’s 19th resupply mission for the International Space Station. It’s the third launch for the capsule and the first for the Falcon 9 booster. The launch, targeted for December 4, will send a number of new projects to the station:

  • Beer firm Anheuser-Busch is sending seeds to see how they germinate in space, the fourth such experiment from the team.
  • NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory will send up a series of ultra-cooled atoms at just over absolute zero, also known as Bose-Einstein condensates. Microgravity should extend their quantum characteristics from a split second to up to 10 seconds.
  • The University of Connecticut School of Medicine is sending up 40 mice to study muscle degradation.

The Crew Dragon’s in-flight abort test will take place no earlier than December, NASA revealed this week as it started accepting media accreditation for the big launch. The test will send a Crew Dragon up on a Falcon 9 rocket, then asking the capsule to escape from the rocket at Max-Q, the point during the launch when aerodynamic pressure is at its maximum. The launch will take place at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A successful result will take SpaceX one step closer to flying astronauts in its new capsule.

In other SpaceX news…

China’s space industry is “very impressive,” Musk declared last week. Figures show the country edged out the United States and Russia in terms of orbital rocket launches, with 39 in 2018 versus 29 from the United States. The country is set to complete the feat once again in 2019. Bloomberg previously outlined China’s big plans for the emergent second space race, including a space station in 2022 and a crewed lunar mission in the 2030s. Read more.

Starlink has sparked concern again among the astronomy community after one of its satellites was spotted photobombing a meteor shower. The constellation is expected to eventually cover up to 42,000 satellites providing fast internet access, but stargazers have expressed concerns that the sheer size of the constellation could disrupt viewings. Megan Donahue, president of the American Astronomical Society, said in June she was “very worried” about these shiny new satellites.

What’s next for SpaceX: SpaceX is set to launch the CRS-19 mission at 12:51 p.m. Eastern time on December 4 from Cape Canaveral. The booster is expected to land after the launch on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

Musk Reads mailroom

Alan Bromborsky writes:

I would suggest “Ad Astra” [as a new name] for Boca Chica. I also think that you guys should redo (bring it up to date and improve the quality) the video that goes with the folk song “Fire in the Sky.”

William Hunt writes:

How can each Starship fly 1,000 times per year? Is the plan to launch the same vehicle 3 times per day? That doesn’t make sense.

That is indeed the plan. Musk made this claim at the September unveiling of the Starship Mk.1, then again on November 7 via Twitter. Note that Musk has a history of ambitious goals on reflights, aiming to fly the same Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket twice within 24 hours before the end of 2019. Unfortunately, SpaceX looks set to end 2019 with a turnaround time of 71 days. It’s perhaps understandable that fans would take these new claims with a small grain of salt.

Got any comments or queries? Don’t forget to send them over to muskreads@inverse.com.

Video of the week

Starship Mk.1’s tank burst during a test in Texas. The company told CNBC in the aftermath last week that “the purpose of today’s test was to pressurize systems to the max, so the outcome was not completely unexpected.”

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Email me directly at mike.brown@inverse.com and follow Inverse on Twitter @inversedotcom. Follow me on Twitter @mikearildbrown.

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