Innovation

Musk Reads: SpaceX's first manned flight gets a launch window

Starlink gets another batch of satellites and Starship is rapidly evolving. What is chloroquine?

Starlink gets another batch of satellites and Starship is rapidly evolving. What is chloroquine? It’s Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #153.

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

Musk quote of the week

“We’re working on ventilators, even though I think there will not be a shortage by the time we can make enough to matter.”

SpaceX

When will SpaceX’s first manned flight launch? No earlier than mid-to-late May, the company declared via its Twitter account Wednesday. The “Demo–2” Crew Dragon flight will see astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley fly to the International Space Station. A successful mission will enable SpaceX to send NASA astronauts to the space station, giving the agency a new means of ferrying crew.

Liftoff! SpaceX sent up the sixth batch of 60 Starlink satellites last week. The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 8:16 a.m. Eastern time. It marked the first time SpaceX had used the same booster five times, but unfortunately it was unable to recover the booster after the launch. The company is aiming to use Starlink to provide high-speed satellite internet starting later this year. Read more.

The Starship is evolving. Musk told his followers last week that the rocket, designed to send the first humans to Mars, has increased in size to 120 meters, or 393 feet. This is because the Super Heavy booster has increased in size to 70 meters, or 229 feet. The company is currently tweaking the design of the ship with each “SN” vehicle number as work continues at the Boca Chica facility in Texas. The Houston Chronicle spoke last week to Boca Chica residents that have taken payouts to move out of the area. Read more.

What’s next for SpaceX: SpaceX is scheduled to launch a SAOCOM 1B satellite on March 30 at 7:21 p.m. Eastern time from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida using a Falcon 9 booster. SpaceX launched the SAOCOM 1A satellite in October 2018, and the pair are designed to assist with disaster relief management in Argentina.

In other Musk news…

Musk has joined with other technology CEOs to supply masks and ventilators in the fight against the new coronavirus. Over the weekend, Musk claimed that he had over 250,000 N95 surgical masks ready to go and is expecting to ship 1,200 ventilators. Musk was previously criticized for referring to the coronavirus “panic” as “dumb” and declaring that “kids are essentially immune.” Read more.

What is chloroquine? A small study on this anti-malaria drug as a treatment for COVID–19 has gone viral. Musk shared a document on March 16 touting it as a solution, but the reality is far less clear. Read more.

Musk Reads mailroom

Jim Crowl writes:

Musk. Maybe it’s time to erect a 1,000 patient tent that you use in Boca Chia for the top five largest cities in the US. The hospitals in the US are in a world of hurt. I know you want to make it to Mars but let’s get real

It wouldn’t be the first time a team has rapidly built a hospital to fight the coronavirus outbreak. Wuhan completed one in six days. New York governor Andrew Cuomo has called for temporary medical facilities to fight the pandemic. New York accounts for around half of all US cases.

George Baker writes:

Please encourage Musk not to make comments about Covid 19 that minimizes the impact. Not that he is saying anything wrong – it is not as bad as the media portray. The problem is the reaction he provokes. Neil deGrasse Tyson tried to put the El Paso shooting at the Walmart into perspective. He also was factually correct. However, both he and Musk appeared callous. I know Musk is not callous. He has done more for humanity than anyone. Without Elon, electric cars would be at least 5 years away. Tesla cars have done more to combat global warming than anything else. He is a hero to millions including me. Better just to say nothing about the virus and if he keeps factories open, make sure everything is being done to minimize transmission of the virus.

Musk’s comments do indeed seem to be a distraction, but it’s perhaps worth noting that Musk’s comments could be proven wrong soon. In an email to SpaceX employees, he compared 36,000 annual automotive deaths per year in the US to 36 deaths from coronavirus. Imperial College London’s report, however, suggested that 2.2 million could die in the US without strict action.

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

Photo of the week

Falcon 9 breaks the sound barrier.

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 #153, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Mike Brown, an innovation journalist for Inverse. * Email me directly at mike.brown@inverse.com and follow Inverse on Twitter @inversedotcom. Follow me on Twitter @mikearildbrown. * Got any comments or queries? Don’t forget to send them over to muskreads@inverse.com.

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

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