Musk Reads: SpaceX Crew Dragon speeds ahead

Starship gets visualized and Hyperloop gets a boost. What do we do about Mars-based bacteria?

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Starship gets visualized and hyperloop gets a boost. What do we do about Mars-based bacteria? It’s Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #185.

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

Musk quote of the week

“Everything we’ve ever sensed or thought has been electrical signals. The early universe was just a soup of quarks & leptons. How did a very small piece of the Universe start to think of itself as sentient?”


NASA is preparing for the SpaceX Crew Dragon’s first non-test mission. The company is set to launch the “Crew–1” mission with four astronauts weeks after Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley return from the International Space Station. The mission will send up NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover Jr., and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi. The four were pictured this week getting to grips with the station’s interfaces. Behnken and Hurley are expected to return in early August, and NASA has indicated it will take around six weeks to process the flight’s data. Read more.

NASA’s focus on the Crew Dragon may have left Boeing by the wayside. SpaceX and Boeing have been working on different capsules as part of the Commercial Crew program, intended to find a way to send astronauts into space. But NASA’s focus on relative newcomer SpaceX may have meant software issues at Boeing went overlooked, NASA program manager Steve Stich suggested. Boeing has yet to complete a crewed launch of its CST–100 Starliner capsule. Read more.

SpaceX’s Starship has been visualized in an impressive new fan video showing the ship making the return journey from Mars to Earth. Read more.

What’s next for SpaceX: SpaceX is set to launch the South Korean military satellite Anasis-II on July 14 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. This mission will use the same booster that sent NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station in May. The company’s previously scheduled 10th Starlink mission has been delayed and currently has no new launch date.

In other Musk news…

Did Congress take Hyperloop mainstream? Musk’s idea for a 700-mph vacuum-sealed pod transit system got a boost last week when the United States House of Representatives passed the Moving Forward Act. If it makes its way into law, it would assign the Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology Council to look into Hyperloop. The act was praised by Jay Walder, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop. Read more.

Musk Reads mailroom

Brian Glass writes:

I love the energy Musk brings to the idea of colonizing Mars and think its wonderful that I may be lucky enough to see mans first foray in interplanetary travel but I wonder if we are truly ready to put a human on Mars. I have enjoyed Matt Damon’s portrayal of a stranded astronaut on the planet in The Martian but the scene when his character gets impaled with a rod and survived gets me thinking about how our own future “Martians” will deal with illness and injury on a planet where we are unaccustomed to whatever life forms, bacteria or other unknown alien antagonists may exist? Surely it won’t be much help to stock up on penicillin for the trip.

A first aid kit tucked away under the backseat may not be enough for a permanent Mars base. CityMetric had a fascinating article in 2018, quoting Nesta’s Eddie Copeland, which explained why a Mars-based health system could be a top priority. Initial settlements could focus on a system where doctors with training can help fix people before the population expands enough to warrant a broader health service.

It would be hard to plan for unknown life forms and bacteria, but the favored approach appears to be keeping everything as clean as possible. It could end up a tough mission with lots of sickness, but as Musk said in March 2018, it would be comparable to Ernest Shackleton’s ad calling for Arctic explorers: “difficult, dangerous, good chance you will die.”

Vladas Lasas writes:

Starship 3D model available at

Following on from last week’s request for accurate Starship 3D models, this should fit the bill. As more members of the community build concept renders of the future of spaceflight, these could prove useful.

Got any comments or queries? Don’t forget to send them over to

Photo of the week

SpaceX’s new images give a razor-sharp view of the Falcon 9 landing. Read more.

Falcon 9 landing.


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The ultra-fine print

This has been Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #185, 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.

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