Shooting Stars

Musk Reads: Watch SpaceX Starship’s record-setting flight

SpaceX launches the Starship to new heights; Tesla China sales soar; and Musk’s team is going to Indonesia.

SpaceX launches the Starship to new heights; Tesla China sales soar; and Musk’s team is going to Indonesia. It’s the free edition of Musk Reads #225 — subscribe now to receive two more editions later this week!

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Tesla's soaring stock price has attracted a lot of attention, and later this week I'll share a project I've been working on for a while: Wall Street analysts Ross Gerber and Brad Gastwirth offer insight on whether its meteoric rise can continue. They share three counterintuitive tips for investing in Tesla. Read them only in Musk Reads+.

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Musk quote of the week

“Fuel header tank pressure was low during landing burn, causing touchdown velocity to be high & RUD [rapid unscheduled disassembly], but we got all the data we needed! Congrats SpaceX team hell yeah!!”


Liftoff! SpaceX successfully launched the SXM–7 mission from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The mission, which launched on Sunday, December 13, at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time, sent up a satellite for radio service provider SiriusXM. The SXM–7 launch will replace the XM 3 satellite and help provide radio services to North American listeners.

The Falcon 9 booster had flown on six previous missions:

  • The “Demo–1” uncrewed Crew Dragon flight to the International Space Station on March 2, 2019.
  • The RADARSAT constellation mission on June 12, 2019.
  • Four Starlink missions in 2020: the fourth batch on January 29, seventh batch on April 22, tenth batch on August 7, and 14th batch on October 18.

Following the launch, the booster successfully landed on the drone ship Just Read the Instructions in the Atlantic Ocean. This means the rocket, dubbed B1051, is tied with B1049 with a record seven successful launches and landings. If either of these boosters fly again, SpaceX will have set a new rocket reuse record. Readers can replay the launch here.

SpaceX also launched the Starship “SN8” prototype to an incredible new height. The ship reached an altitude of 12.5 kilometers, or around 41,000 feet — but unfortunately, the ship exploded upon landing. The test, which took place at the firm’s Cameron County launch pad in Texas last Wednesday, beat out the ship’s previous record of 150 meters (around 500 feet) in August 2020. The Starship is designed to send over 150 tons or 100 humans into space at a time, supporting missions to Mars and beyond. Read more.

Watch the rocket in action here:

The best rocket launch photographers can “bring people into that moment of awe," says Ryan Chylinski, who's been documenting SpaceX launches from the pad. That up-close perspective can change a person's outlook on humanity. Go inside the mind of a rocket shooter to elevate your mood. It's only in Musk Reads+.


  • Tesla sales have reached a record high in China, Electrek reported. The China Passenger Car Association reported the company sold 21,604 Tesla Model 3 cars in November. This represents a 78 percent year-over-year increase. The Model 3 is the second best-selling car in the country, with the $5,000 Hongguang Mini in first place.
  • Tesla will replace Apartment Investment and Management Co. when it joins the S&P 500 index on December 21, it was announced last week.
  • The largest Powerwall installation in the United Kingdom has been completed, Energy Manager Magazine reported last week. Portsmouth’s Hilsea Industrial Estate, which sports 250 kilowatts of solar panels, has received a 10-Powerwall setup that can hold 135 kilowatt-hours of energy.
  • A German court has suspended preparations for Giga Berlin, the BBC reported. Environmental groups warned Tesla’s forest clearing plans would threaten sand lizards and smooth snakes.

In other Musk news…

  • It’s official: Musk is leaving California to make Texas his new home. He told the Wall Street Journal that California has “too much influence on the world,” but added that “I think we’ll see some reduction in the influence of Silicon Valley.” Musk’s move brings some personal benefits, as unlike California, Texas does not levy state-level income taxes or capital gains taxes on individuals.
  • Musk also warned the publication about “the M.B.A.-ization of America,” adding that there should be more focus on the actual products and services rather than financials and board meetings.
  • The rush to mine lithium is damaging environments in the name of greener transport, The Guardian reported last week.
  • Musk is sending a team to Indonesia in January to explore investments, the BBC reported Monday. The country aims to be the largest producer of electric vehicle batteries thanks to large deposits of materials like nickel. Indonesian officials have also put the country forward as a potential launch site for SpaceX.
  • Rivian’s all-electric Amazon delivery van prototype has been spotted in California.

The ultra-fine print

This has been Musk Reads #225, 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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