Musk Reads: Starlink could break Falcon 9 record

Starlink soars over the skies and Starship gets a size comparison. What about solar radiation?

NurPhoto/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Starlink soars over the skies and Starship gets a size comparison. What about solar radiation? It’s Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #195.

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

Musk quote of the week

“Some big milestones coming up”


SpaceX is set to launch its next batch of Starlink satellites, and it could set an all-new record for reusability. The company is expected to launch its next batch of satellites on August 18, a mission that could see a Falcon 9 rocket fly for the sixth time. This is expected to be the first time that a single booster has flown more than five times. The mission is also the company’s 100th; SpaceX held its first successful launch in 2008. As the firm looks to future plans like the fully reusable Starship, the Falcon 9’s milestone is an important step for reusability. Read more.

Early speed tests have started coming in, and it looks like Starlink will offer high speeds versus existing satellite constellations. Tests show the constellation currently offers download speeds of between 35 and 60 megabits per second, upload times of between 5 and 18 megabits per second, and response times between 31 and 94 milliseconds. These figures are expected to improve as the constellation develops. Read more.

What’s next for SpaceX: SpaceX is set to launch the 11th batch of Starlink satellites on August 18 at 10:31 a.m. Eastern time. The launch will take place from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

In other Musk news…

  • Struggling to get signed up to hear more about Starlink? A new website tweak helps those who find that their address is not recognized by the system, explaining how to point to any spot on a map. Read more.
  • Crew Dragon’s first operational flight will take place no earlier than October 23, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine announced this week.
  • How big is the Starship’s fairing? A new size comparison with rockets from ULA and Blue Origin helps put its size in perspective. Read more.
  • A new photo shows Starship’s prototype at the Boca Chica facility in Texas. Read more.
  • The Starship “SN6” prototype is expected to repeat “SN5”’s 150-meter hop test in the coming days, NASASpaceFlight reports.
  • Here’s what Mars would look like covered in water. Read more.
  • Here’s how to see the Starlink satellites in the sky. Read more.

Musk Reads mailroom

Victor Sasson writes:

Elevator is too easy for Musk. Beam them down Elon.

Last week’s Musk Reads raised the issue of how astronauts will reach the surface of Mars. An elevator may be a simple solution, but Musk could continue his aim to turn more sci-fi concepts into a reality. “Beam me up, Elon”?

Peter Ronai writes:

I have yet to read any comments from Elon about radiation shielding on the long flight to Mars and on the Martian “surface.” I suspect colonists will need to live underground.

This is an important area of discussion. At the 2016 IAC event in Mexico, Musk said that radiation is “not too big of a deal.” At the following year’s presentation, Musk indicated there would be shelters on Mars to protect from radiation. In October 2018, Musk claimed ambient radiation is unlikely to be a big deal for the actual journey, meaning a solar storm shelter would be sufficient.

But research into space radiation is ongoing. Nathan Schwadron, a professor of physics at the University of New Hampshire and lead author of a study into cosmic rays, told Inverse in March 2018 that solar activity since 2005 had been “anomalously” weak.

Radiation protection is likely to be a key element in Mars’ habitat design. These homes are likely to more closely resemble caves rather than skyscrapers.

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

Photo of the week

Crew–1 gets ready.

Crew-1 team.

Jim Bridenstine/Twitter

Got any photos or videos you’d like to share? Feel free to send them over to

The ultra-fine print

This has been Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #195, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Mike Brown, an innovation journalist for Inverse.

What did you think of today’s stories? Hit reply to this email to let us know. Thanks for reading!

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

Related Tags