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Musk Reads: SpaceX Starlink will get a much-needed feature

Werner Herzog criticizes Musk and SpaceX prepares to break a rocket reusability record. What’s next for Crew Dragon?

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Werner Herzog criticizes Musk and SpaceX prepares to break a rocket reusability record. What’s next for Crew Dragon? It’s Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #221.

Back in 2013, Elon Musk released the "Hyperloop Alpha" PDF outlining his vision for a space-age styled pod that would speed 700 mph through a vacuum tube. More than seven years later, one company is actually coming close to making it a reality — and we have an exclusive interview with its co-founder and first passenger. You'll only read it in Musk Reads+.

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

Musk quote of the week

“Tomorrow will be the 7th flight of this rocket, landing on droneship Of Course I Still Love You”

SpaceX

SpaceX will enable you to move your Starlink connection to a new address or to no address at all, company engineers confirmed during a Reddit “ask me anything” session over the weekend. The team wrote that “mobility options — including moving your Starlink to different service addresses (or places that don’t even have addresses!) — is coming once we are able to increase our coverage by launching more satellites & rolling out new software.” The reveal means that users of the high-speed, low-latency internet service will be able to take the service to imaginative new places.

The session also revealed:

  • Starlink has self-heating abilities to deal with a variety of cold climates.
  • The engineers recommend taking the dish indoors during high-wind events where safety is a concern.
  • The constellation’s 550-kilometer altitude means light should travel to the ground in 1.8 milliseconds. That means a round trip to a server is four times as much as that at best, and the team is focused on getting latencies down as much as possible.
  • Starlink engineers are working on “a couple of items” to reduce power consumption, which one user claimed reaches around 100 watts.

What’s next for SpaceX: The company is set to launch the 16th batch of Starlink satellites at 9:34 p.m. Eastern time, lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch was delayed from its scheduled Sunday evening liftoff due to “mission assurance.” The mission will be the seventh time SpaceX has used the B1049 Falcon 9 booster, setting a new record for reusing rockets. Read more.

In other SpaceX news…

Musk’s vision of a city on Mars is a “mistake,” legendary director Werner Herzog told Inverse this month. Herzog said that humans should “not be like the locusts,” and should instead “look to keep our planet habitable.” He also claimed that the 21st century will “quickly” end the “technological utopia like colonizing Mars.” The director has interviewed Musk before for his 2016 documentary Lo and Behold, in which he asked Musk for a one-way ticket to Mars. Read more.

What is Musk’s plan? The CEO explained on Twitter last week that the goal is to establish a city with “life in glass domes at first.” Mars would “eventually” be terraformed to support life. Musk admitted that while the process would be “too slow to be relevant in our lifetime […] we can establish a human base there in our lifetime.” That means, even if terraforming fails, “at least a future spacefaring civilization — discovering our ruins — will be impressed humans got that far.” Musk aims to establish the city as early as 2050. Read more.

What about SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, which has completed its first non-test crewed launch? The capsule sent up NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, plus Soichi Noguchi from Japanese space agency JAXA, on November 15. SpaceX plans a slew of missions in the coming months, with reports suggesting Tom Cruise will be among those taking off in the capsule. Read more.

Musk Reads mailroom

We received a number of responses to Herzog’s interview this week. Here’s what readers think about the director’s criticism:

Samuel Coleman writes:

With respect to Werner Herzog’s comment about Elon Musk’s lofty ambitions to build out a Mars City habitation that it would be an obscenity to do so without trying to fix Earth’s problems first. The trouble with people like him is he just uses this generic idea that the planet needs “fixing”. Yet he doesn’t elaborate WHAT needs fixing. The trouble with that idea is that groups of humans can’t agree on that. In the meantime we’re supposed to just sit on our hands until they come up with something? I’m any event, it’s his money and I would posit that his (Musk) vision is more than what Herzog is doing. Let him go back to making movies which is all he is good at.

Leslie writes:

Why does a film director think people care what he thinks about Elon Musk’s plans? He’s in the entertainment business. His job is to make movies not spaceships. He should stick to what he knows and Elon musk will do what he knows.

Got any comments or queries? Send them over to muskreads@inverse.com.

Photo of the week

SpaceX’s Sentinel–6 mission, which took off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Saturday. The booster successfully landed after the mission.

Falcon 9 coming in to land.SpaceX/Flickr

Got any photos or videos you’d like to share? Feel free to send them over to muskreads@inverse.com.

The ultra-fine print

This has been Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #221, 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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