Big Boost

Musk Reads: Photo reveals SpaceX’s Mars-bound booster rocket

Super Heavy steps forward, Starlink gets an agreement, and Musk becomes the “Technoking.”

Super Heavy steps forward, Starlink gets an agreement, and Musk becomes the “Technoking.” It’s the free edition of Musk Reads #239 — subscribe now to receive two more editions later this week!

Last week, Musk Reads+ subscribers heard from MaryLiz Bender — who simulated a trip to Mars in Hawaii’s HI-SEAS habitat — about what Musk needs for his Mars city. This week, subscribers will hear from Jason Lassen, whose Tesla Solar Roof snow video went viral, about how to get the roof installed in your area.

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Musk quote of the week

“An orbital propellant depot optimized for cryogenic storage probably makes sense long-term.”

SpaceX

SpaceX’s Super Heavy is coming to life.

On Thursday, Musk shared an image of the first prototype for the under-development booster. The project forms part of SpaceX’s broader Starship project. The Super Heavy booster will pair with the Starship rockets, making recent headlines with their high-altitude launches and landings.

The booster will provide more power, enabling the ship to leave the Earth. The pair, which will measure around 400 feet tall when stacked together, are designed to send the first humans to Mars and beyond.

Musk explained on Twitter that the prototype in the picture is Booster 1, a “production pathfinder” used to work out how to build and transport a booster that measures a staggering 230 feet tall. Booster 2 is expected to be the first prototype model to fly.

Musk also responded positively to a fan concept video that showed an “orbital mega tanker.”

After leaving the Earth, the Starship is expected to connect with a second Starship that will transfer fuel into the first ship’s tanks. This will enable it to continue its journey to Mars. Musk said in September 2016 that the ship would need to be five to 10 times bigger without this step, as it would need to hold a lot more fuel at launch.

In response to the mega-tanker idea, Musk wrote that an orbital propellant depot, optimized for the cryogenic temperatures required to store the Starship’s fuel, “probably makes sense long-term.”

Tesla

Musk has declared himself the “Technoking” of Tesla while chief financial officer Zach Kirkhorn is now the “Master of Coin.” The announcement was made in an 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last Monday. It comes as Tesla shareholder Chase Gharrity is suing Musk over “erratic” tweets. Musk has clashed on several occasions with the commission about his use of Twitter. Read more.

Is Tesla using its cars to spy in China? Musk responded Saturday to a report from Reuters that the Chinese military has banned the firm’s cars from its facilities over concerns about the cameras installed in the company’s vehicles. The cameras are used for features like the semi-autonomous Autopilot mode, expected to one day enable full autonomous driving. Musk said “there's a very strong incentive for us to be very confidential with any information … if Tesla used cars to spy in China or anywhere, we will get shut down.”

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In other Musk news…

  • NASA and SpaceX have signed a joint spaceflight safety agreement, the agency announced Thursday. The agreement means Starlink satellites, used to power SpaceX’s under-development internet service, will maneuver to avoid collision with NASA satellites and assets. NASA, on the other hand, won’t have to move. This should avoid a situation where both parties move their assets, making it easier to maneuver around and avoid collisions.
  • A global shortage of semiconductors is becoming increasingly serious, with potential consequences for the automotive industry. Read more.
  • Heavy duty truck manufacturer Freightliner has racked up over 700,000 miles of all-electric truck miles, Daimler spokesperson Fred Ligouri told Inverse last week. The reveal comes as Tesla has yet to bring the Semi truck into mass production. Read more.
  • SpaceX is in talks with an internet service provider in the Philippines to bring its Starlink internet service to the country. In an interview with ANC, Converge co-founder and CEO Dennis Anthony Uy confirmed that talks are progressing.

The ultra-fine print

This has been Musk Reads #239, 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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