Innovation

Musk Reads: Starship's true size

GPS gets better and the Martian government plan has a strange coincidence. Starship 3D models?

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GPS gets better and the Martian government plan has a strange coincidence. Starship 3D models? It’s Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #183.

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

Musk quote of the week

“Sorry to hear about this. Hope you get back to orbit soon. Rockets are hard.”

SpaceX

“Your GPS just got slightly better,” Musk declared last week. SpaceX had just launched a GPS III satellite from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, which is expected to support a new generation of global positioning. The Falcon 9 used for the mission successfully landed on the drone ship Just Read the Instructions after launch. The United States Space Force mission will help upgrade the satellite constellation used by smartphones around the world to identify their current location. Read more.

Curious about the Starship’s true size? Artist Bart Caldwell shared an image last week of the Falcon 9 fairing inside the Starship, including a man on top for scale. The image not only shows the impressive size of the rocket but also the dedication of the SpaceX fan community in bringing some of the most fascinating developments to life. Caldwell told Inverse that “the sci-fi futures that I had been promised — with huge space stations and colonies on other celestial bodies — might actually come true.” Read more.

In other Musk news…

Did Wernher von Braun predict Musk? The German-born engineer named Mars’ parliament “Elon” in his 1953 book Project Mars. Twitter user “blue_bnd” spotted the mention, which Musk described as “pretty weird.” The book, which details a plan for settling on Mars, described its parliament as such:

“The Martian government was directed by ten men, the leader of whom was elected by universal suffrage for five years and entitled ‘Elon.’ Two houses of Parliament enacted the laws to be administered by the Elon and his cabinet.”

Hyperloop, the vacuum-sealed pod transit system first outlined by Musk in 2013, is a step closer to reality. SpaceX, which has hosted four pod design competitions so far, is expected to host a fifth competition. Last week, Musk outlined plans to use “a much longer vacuum tunnel” for the fifth event, measuring 6.2 miles with “lots of turns to better approximate a real-world tunnel.” Read more.

How did SpaceX start sending humans into space? SpaceNews has a history writeup this week that places the start date at June 21, 2005, when new NASA administrator Mike Griffin said the agency should aim to ensure commercial firms have “skin in the game” when it comes to the International Space Station.

What’s next for SpaceX: SpaceX is expected to launch the 10th batch of 60 Starlink satellites at around 12 p.m. Eastern time on July 8. It will also send up two BlackSky satellites as part of a ridesharing agreement. Florida Today reported Monday that the weather looks 70 percent favorable. Read more.

Musk Reads mailroom

Kevin Hambsch, member of the Mars Society, writes:

Re occupy Mars: Elon has called on the public in general to help him make it/that happen. This strikes me as farcical as he will not allow “the public” to invest in SpaceX. His position that he doesn’t want individuals to invest and then bug out early rings hollow as a stipulation as part of a purchase (of stock) could be made that the investment must be retained for a certain period of years prior to sale….say 10 years for example. He also used the excuse that he didn’t want to be involved with quarterly reports (stock growth etc.) This also doesn’t ring true as one singular professional could be hired to perform such work….he need not be involved. We all know he’s a devil on wheels where waste of assets is concerned, but really. Please do tell, how are we to help when denied the ability to invest?

From the outside, it seems SpaceX’s aim is to maintain tight control over its future direction. As Gwynne Shotwell noted in 2018, the firm is holding small funding rounds and choosing investors with “patience as well as excitement.” Musk’s now-infamous tweet to take Tesla private in August 2018, followed by a blog post that explained his rationale, suggested the CEO is not too fond of external pressures in general. But as Inverse noted this week, the SpaceX community is made up of passionate fans keen to contribute.

Joel Lovell writes:

Is there any way you can get SpaceX folks to make 3D models available of Starship? I’m an animator and would love to create some ‘fan films’ near future sci-fi stories based on the Mars effort.

While there doesn’t seem to be official 3D models available just yet, the passionate fan community has produced its own versions. Hum3D has also produced its own 3D models of the Starship.

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

Photo of the week

Starship gets pictured.

The Starship with a Falcon 9 fairing inside.Bart Caldwell

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 #183, 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.

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

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