Musk Reads

SpaceX's next-generation Starlink is here, but there's a catch

Tesla raises prices, SpaceX upgrades Starlink, Elon Musk hates LiDAR.

Originally Published: 
January 7, 2022
Deerton, Michigan (in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan).                      

Tim Bieber/Stockbyte Unreleased/Getty Images

Tesla raises prices... SpaceX upgrades Starlink... Elon Musk hates LiDAR. It’s the free edition of Musk Reads #280subscribe now to receive two more emails later this week.

Last week, Musk Reads+ members heard from SpaceX Reddit moderator Forest Katsch about how the online community fuels SpaceX. This week, members will hear from Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck about how its unusually-shaped rocket enables new missions.

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Musk quote of the week: “Earth should be called Water” — Elon Musk tweeted on January 4. Now there’s an idea, Musk.

SpaceX: Starlink, with lasers

SpaceX conducted its first Starlink launch of 2022 from Kennedy Space Center on January 6. The successful mission added 49 next-generation Starlink satellites to SpaceX’s growing second shell.


These lasers, of course, are not the neon green interplanetary defense mechanisms you might imagine, but links that lead to improved communication between Starlink satellites. Read more on Inverse.

Although Starlink missions are certainly exciting for the spaceflight enthusiasts among us, if you’re a disgruntled Starlink customer still waiting for your product, you might not be so impressed. After all, more Starlink satellites don’t necessarily lead to more Starlink kits. Silicon and chip shortages have led to indefinite production delays, but Starlink continues to offer customers a full refund for their subscriptions at any time.

Tesla: With great power comes a great price hike

Tesla is raising its Full Self-Driving price for the first time since 2020. Starting on January 17, you can purchase the software for a sizable $12,000, but “just in the U.S.,” Elon Musk said on Twitter.

For anyone just looking to test FSD out, the software is still available at a much more affordable (in comparison) subscription price of $199 a month, or $99 a month if your vehicle has Enhanced Autopilot installed. However, these subscription prices are likely to get bumped, too, as Tesla improves its software.

That’s the plan, at least.

And what are the recent improvements Tesla has made to its soon-to-be $12,000 software? According to the release notes on the latest version of FSD, Beta 10.8, it now yields better to jaywalkers, improved unprotected left turns, and has more “natural behaviors to bias over bike lanes during right turns,” among other things.

On Twitter, Musk said that Beta 10.9 will be ready in “about a week” and that Beta 11 will include “many other architectural upgrades probably next month.” Hopefully everyone survives until then.

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10. Elon Musk has long opposed LiDar, or light detection and ranging. More recently, Musk has transitioned Tesla vehicles over to “Tesla Vision,” a camera-based detection system, to rely on for their Autopilot and Full Self-Driving technology. Now, Teslas are running over fake children in parking lots. Think of the fake children.

9. When you’re not running down fake children in parking lots, you can use your Tesla to mine cryptocurrency. It’s possible, but not necessarily profitable.

8. You can even use your Tesla to mine the Musk-universe’s latest cryptocurrency, um… “Elon Goat Token,” which is being commemorated by its founders with a 30-foot statue of Elon Musk as a goat riding a rocket. Yes, that’s right. Elon Musk, as a goat, riding a rocket. The whole thing (and the incredibly detailed project plan) is probably a big joke. But I don’t want it to be.

7. Need even more cars that will help you make pancakes out of cardboard children? Check out Inverse reporter Jordan Golson’s car review newsletter, PRNDL, for ideas. So many fake children, so little time.

6. Although Tesla has quietly delayed Cybertruck indefinitely, you can still buy a wooden Cybertruck model for $29.59 on Etsy. That’s almost the same, right? Shipping not included.

5. Space transportation company Sierra Space recently showcased its nubby space plane, Dream Chaser, at the CES technology convention in Las Vegas. The company already has a crewed mission planned with NASA.

4. Although funding for the International Space Station was set to expire in 2024, the Biden administration plans to extend the deadline to 2030. “It’s more important than ever that the United States continues to lead the world in [...] the peaceful and responsible use of space,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

3. By the way, retiring NASA scientist, Jim Green, says we can terraform Mars. And Venus!

2. That’s good news. 2021 was one of humanity’s hottest years ever. Prepare the escape pod.

1. And a piece of Musk history: In 2015, Musk suggested to Fortune that Tesla vehicles could drive themselves by 2017. “I think we have all the pieces, and it’s just about refining those pieces, putting them in place, and making sure they work across a huge number of environments—and then we’re done,” he said. Five years later, Tesla still isn’t quite there yet. But maybe in two more years.

The ultra-fine print — This has been Musk Reads #280, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Ashley Bardhan, newsletter writer at Inverse.

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