Innovation

Musk Reads: Starlink transceiver revealed in image

Starlink's transceiver gets pictured and Starship passes a key test. Tom Cruise in space? How can readers volunteer with the space community?

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Starlink’s transceiver gets pictured and Starship passes a key test. Tom Cruise in space? How can readers volunteer with the space community? It’s Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #167.

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

Musk quote of the week

“They were amazing.”

SpaceX

SpaceX the movie? A report last week suggested the firm plans to team up with Hollywood actor Tom Cruise for an action-adventure film in space, one that won’t form part of the Mission: Impossible franchise. While there have been some early experimentations with space-bound moviemaking, like Richard Garriott’s efforts in 2008, Cruise’s effort is expected to become the first feature film shot entirely in space. Further details are unclear at this point, but it’s the sort of project that could be ideal for Starship. The ship is designed to send up to 100 people into space at a time at low cost, meaning a ship could send up a film crew ready to shoot the next big-budget flick. Read more.

What’s next for SpaceX: SpaceX is set to launch the eighth batch of 60 Starlink satellites from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Originally scheduled for May 7, it’s now expected to take place no earlier than May 17.

SpaceX Starship

A Starship prototype has taken a big step toward flying for the first time. “SN4” passed a static fire test last week at the Boca Chica facility in Texas. On May 10, Musk updated fans by revealing the ship had also passed a high-pressure 7.5-bar test and engine thrust load at cryogenic temperatures. All these are big steps toward flying a full-size prototype for the first time, with plans to launch up to 500 feet in the air. Once a “hop test” has been completed, SpaceX can focus on completing its first orbital test flight ahead of more ambitious missions, like a trip to Mars and the Moon. Read more.

Musk also revealed that Starship could reach even lower price points than anticipated. While the CEO claimed in November 2019 that flights could cost just $2 million each, Musk suggested via Twitter that these prices could fall further:

“Starship + Super Heavy propellant mass is 4800 tons (78% O2 & 22% CH4). I think we can get propellant cost down to ~$100/ton in volume, so ~$500k/flight. With high flight rate, probably below $1.5M fully burdened cost for 150 tons to orbit or ~$10/kg. Would be about 10 times that cost for payload to surface of Mars.”

In other Musk news…

Musk appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience for the second time last week – the first time being in September 2018 when Musk made headlines for smoking marijuana. In the new episode, the pair cover everything including Neuralink, Tesla, going to Mars, fatherhood, and the Covid–19 lockdown. The full two-hour video can be found here.

Musk Reads mailroom

Fredrik Coulter writes:

I’m not sure I agree with some of your recommendations in today’s newsletter. The Planetary Society has historically been less interested in getting people into space than exploring the planets using unmanned means. Nothing wrong with that, but not what your questioner was interested in.

There are three quick organizations that he might want to investigate:

The National Space Society (NSS) which is the follow up organization to L5. Its mission is the settlement of space in general. More specifically, The Moon Society and The Mars Society are aimed at settling (respectively) the Moon and Mars. Personally, I think The Mars Society is doing more, but that may be more a factor of a more effective PR process.

These are all great suggestions for Randy Pratt’s query last week. Indeed, The Mars Society’s president, Robert Zubrin, helped convince Musk to focus on Mars in the first place. The group’s how to volunteer page has a number of great suggestions for getting involved, from assisting at conventions to social media help.

Nicolas Contreras writes:

Greetings! Given that Tom Cruise is a producer in some of his films, what crazy stunt(s) do you think will be performed in the emptiness of space?

Great question! Personally I’d be keen to see that scene from Mission: Impossible with the cable wire drop, perhaps with a zero-gravity twist, as a fun homage. Or maybe something akin to scaling the Burj Khalifa in Ghost Protocol, with Cruise dramatically making his way across the outside of a spacecraft, if technology allows.

Any readers who know which stunt they want to see Tom Cruise complete, send in the answers to the address below!

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

Photo of the week

A close-up shot of the Starlink transceiver, as shared by OANN’s Chanel Rion on Twitter last week. This gadget is expected to enable homes and businesses to connect to the Starlink network, the internet connectivity constellation set to enter beta this year.

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 #167, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Mike Brown, an innovation journalist for Inverse.

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

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