Musk Reads: Terraform Mars with 10,000 nukes

Crew Dragon prepares for liftoff and Starship’s size gets pictured in fan concept. What sort of stunts will Tom Cruise perform?

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Crew Dragon prepares for liftoff and Starship’s size gets pictured in fan concept. What sort of stunts will Tom Cruise perform? It’s Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #169.

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

Musk quote of the week

“That would be cool!”


What’s needed to terraform Mars? Somewhere around 10,000 missiles, according to Roscosmos executive director Alexander Bloshenko. The director was commenting on Musk’s idea to use controlled nuclear explosions over the planet’s poles, which would be used to heat the surface and release carbon dioxide stores. These would be used to create a more hospitable environment for humans. The plan would help expand on SpaceX’s goals to build a permanent city on Mars, enabling the inhabitants to move around with greater ease. In response to the 10,000 figure, Musk posted on Twitter: “No problem.” Read more.

Tesla’s feud with California may have spilled over into SpaceX. Reuters reported that a state panel rejected a request last week for $655,500 in job and training funds. The funds would have been used to train 900 employees for Starlink and hire 300 employees for Starship. The Employment Training Panel, which voted five against and two for, cited Musk’s plans to move Tesla out of the state in its decision.

What’s next for SpaceX: SpaceX’s next mission will be the “Demo–2” Crew Dragon manned mission, set for May 27. SpaceX was originally first set to launch the eighth batch of 60 Starlink satellites from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The firm announced Monday the mission has been delayed due to tropical storm Arthur and is now expected to launch sometime after the “Demo–2” mission.

SpaceX Crew Dragon

Want to join astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on the Crew Dragon’s first manned mission? Students set to graduate in 2020 can submit their photo for inclusion in a mosaic that will be sent up with the two NASA astronauts. The capsule is expected to lift off on May 27. Read more.

SpaceX has released a new simulator that helps followers get to grips with the real controls of the Crew Dragon. The capsule is designed to dock with the station autonomously but also offers controls to take over when needed. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine managed to successfully complete the simulation on his first attempt. Read more.

More of a Kerbal Space Program fan? The game’s developers are inviting players to share their simulation of the Crew Dragon mission by May 25. The team will share the best ones with NASA to get the agency’s opinion.

In other Musk news…

Neuralink, Musk’s human-computer brain linkup firm, was described by the entrepreneur last week as “next-level for sure.” The firm is aiming to implant its first chips within medical patients in “less than a year,” which would enable them to control computers with their brains. From there, Musk has his eyes set on creating a symbiotic relationship between humans and A.I. Musk claims Neuralink could reach that higher level within the next decade. Read more.

Musk received criticism Sunday after posting the phrase “take the red pill” on Twitter. The phrase was originally associated with the 1999 film The Matrix but has since been co-opted by alt-right movements. Musk’s post was shared by Ivanka Trump, where she added the note “Taken!” Lilly Wachowski, one of the movie’s directors, responded to Trump’s tweet with “fuck both of you,” before asking followers to support trans charity Brave Space Alliance.

Musk Reads mailroom

Musk Reads received a number of suggestions for how Tom Cruise and SpaceX’s planned feature film could take movie-making to the next level. Here’s a selection of our favorites.

Andreas Klein writes:

I believe you should invest a good deal of money in making a space suit in which a person could: 1. Have more mobility 2. Face, voice should be fully discernable 3. Dress very quickly 4. Make space suit available for women (and perhaps children?) Do not make space suits resembling super-man or wonder-woman! Don’t make that mistake :)

Dana Maniuszko writes:

He should do some kind of car stunt with the Tesla Roadster that’s already out in space. Or at least a cameo with him and Starman.

Steve McLeod writes:

SpaceX scientist discovers worm holes and Mr Tom is on his way. Tom, and Elon in Neuralink with A.I., discover the frequencies generated by their control of kundalini energy by releasing DMT (refer to pineal gland) for entry into worm holes into under ground cavers on Mars (of course) only to discover/uncover…

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

Photo of the week

South Australia-based Alex Delderfield produced a concept render that helps to show the SpaceX Starship’s true size. Read more.

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 #169, 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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