Musk Reads

SpaceX ends the year by beating its own launch record with Falcon 9

SpaceX launches, more lawsuits for Tesla, Elon Musk will pay his taxes.

Originally Published: 
FLORIDA, USA - DECEMBER 18: A Falcon 9 rocket carrying Turkeyâs new telecommunication satellite Turk...
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SpaceX launches... More lawsuits for Tesla... Elon Musk will pay his taxes. It’s the free edition of Musk Reads #278subscribe now to receive two more emails later this week.

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Musk quote of the week: “Given the almost unimaginable nature of the present, what will the future be?” — Elon Musk tweeted on December 19 in reference to a TikTok of David Letterman asking Bill Gates “what the hell” the internet is in 1995. Musk later elucidated that his musings on the future were in reaction to Web3, a theoretical decentralized internet, but the nudge toward an open mind seems equally applicable to all of Musk’s big ideas. We never really know what the future holds.

SpaceX: Let’s launch

This weekend, SpaceX dealt with holiday stress the way anyone else would: by launching two rockets in one day.

First, just before 8 a.m. Eastern time on December 18, Falcon 9 sent up a new crop of 52 Starlink satellites from the California coast. This mission marked the 34th Starlink flight and the final Starlink flight of 2021. If you missed it, like all of SpaceX’s launches, the launch is available to watch in its entirety online.

Later that day, around 11 p.m. Eastern time, SpaceX made another liftoff to launch Turkey’s communication satellite, the Turksat 5B, from Cape Canaveral.

The tight turnaround between these two flights made a new record for SpaceX, which previously had its shortest turnaround time at 44 hours between flights. Congrats, SpaceX!

The big launches.

Tesla: Naughty or nice?

In the early hours of the morning, unable to sleep, I opened my laptop to write this newsletter. Just as I did so, I received an — ding! — unexpected email notification. It turned out to be this real and not made-up email from Santa Claus. This is a huge deal, so I’m posting the email in its entirety for your reading and interest:

Hello, this is Santa. I’m leaking my Naughty or Nice list for Tesla this week because I thought it would bring more web traffic to my homepage.


  • Naughty is putting it very lightly. Six more women have joined the outcry against the disturbing workplace culture at Elon Musk’s companies Tesla and SpaceX. According to these six lawsuits, all filed separately, the Tesla factory is a place where management ignores human resources complaints, uncomfortable 69 jokes are egged-on, and women wear baggy clothing in hopes of hiding from it all.
  • Tesla shareholders have sued the company over Musk’s “reckless” tweets, like those directed at "angry mom" Senator Elizabeth Warren.


  • Musk has doubled down on Tesla’s safety and his frustration with the expectation that “you're not going to get rewarded necessarily for the lives that you save, but you will definitely be blamed for lives that you don't save." Even so, everyone is pretty thrilled that a woman safely gave birth in a Tesla that drove her to the hospital.
  • And Tesla owner Sam Fursey avoided injury when a tree smashed the top of his car while he drove. CleanTechnica suggested that the strong glass in the Tesla’s roof saved him. “Thank you higher powers,” Fursey wrote in the description of his YouTube video of the event. “And Tesla engineers,” he tacked on.

Kind of an even spread here, but I don’t feel right giving coal to an EV company, so I’m still deliberating. By the way, don’t bother leaving out any cookies for me this year. I went keto.

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10. On December 19, Elon Musk said that he will pay “over $11 billion in taxes this year,” referencing the Tesla stock he sold earlier this winter. The $11 billion figure is notable for being the most an American has paid in taxes, and it represents about 4.5 percent of Musk’s $243 billion net worth. I’m paying 25 percent this year as a freelancer. Please clap!!!

9. Do you miss the easy days of Saturday morning cartoons? If only there were a podcast that, oh, I don’t know, combined the relaxing nature of cartoons with your specific interest in Musk subsidiary Neuralink and made it available to watch for free on YouTube. Oh wait, there is!

8. Observant Cybertruck forum posters noticed that an icon in the GMC Hummer EV’s touchscreen illustrates the Hummer running over Tesla’s Cybertruck. Now, that’s not very nice. That's just how EVs kiss.

7. In Finland, when replacing the battery on a 2013 Model S proves to be way too expensive, the owner simply blows their car up with 66 pounds of dynamite. This is peak human performance.

6. Space enthusiast and YouTuber Marcus House led viewers through his in-depth discussion of SpaceX’s news and speculation, including the mysterious “orange devices” that have popped up on the sides of Starship. It’s for my emotional support Happy Meal toys from 2003.

5. After five applications to NASA’s astronaut training program, the agency chose SpaceX lead flight surgeon Dr. Anil Menon as a trainee. “The physician with the dragon tattoo.”

4. Musk appeared on Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast to discuss “military tech, war planes, and other such historical subjects.” You’re not hardcore unless you build hardcore.

3. Some of Mars is “packed full of water.” Packed, I say.

2. You think you’re having a stressful holiday season? Omicron complicating your already too-complicated-because-family travel plans? At least you’re not getting launched into orbit on December 24, like the James Webb Space Telescope. Just imagine the commute.

1. And a piece of Musk history: On December 25, 2015, Elon Musk introduced a “Model Xmas show” function into Model X’s headlight patterns. The “show” timed Model X’s headlights and falcon wing door openings to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Wizards and Winter,” which begins to play during the “show.” A demonstration of the original light show has since been deleted from Tesla’s YouTube and Musk’s Twitter, but Model X owners are still able to trigger it by booping the right buttons. Have yourself a Model Xmas.

The ultra-fine print — This has been Musk Reads #278, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Ashley Bardhan, assistant to Musk Reads.

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