Musk Reads

Starship could solve what Musk calls an "insanely hard problem"

SpaceX prepares to launch; Tesla stays quiet for now; and Musk comes to an agreement with Texas.

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SpaceX prepares to launch, Tesla stays quiet for now, and Musk comes to an agreement with Texas. It’s the free edition of Musk Reads #259 subscribe now to receive two more emails later this week!

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Musk quote of the week

“It will be exciting to see what new cultures humanity creates on other heavenly bodies!” — Elon Musk said to a fan who noticed that the completed, orbit-bound Starship is the same size as Earth’s Statue of Liberty.

SpaceX: Starship fully stacked

Elon Musk’s Twitter account, his press release area of choice, has been flooded with the news: Starship is stacked for its first orbital flight.

Elon Musk posts a photo of workers during Starship construction.

Musk has been documenting the last few construction details for the past week, letting followers in on crucial final moments like moving the rocket’s Super Heavy Booster to the orbital launch mount and when more heat shield tiles were on their way on August 5.

If things continue to go well, this Starship will be heading for Hawaii after firing off from Texas during its as-of-yet unannounced first orbital launch. Read more on Inverse.

Elon Musk has also expressed interest in developing Starship so that it can carry 150 tons of orbital payload with “full reusability,” solving what Elon Musk calls an “insanely hard problem.”

Elon Musk discusses future goals for Starship.

“[A rocket] must be rapidly and completely reusable,” Musk tweeted August 6. “This is the only way to make life multiplanetary.”

In minor SpaceX news …

Tesla: A.I. day on the horizon

Tesla will host its first A.I. Day on August 19, another addition to the “days” Tesla holds to explain and showcase new technology, like Autonomy Day in 2019 or Battery Day in 2020.

According to The Street, Tesla began sending out invitations to the “invite-only” event last week, along with a vague but lengthy description of what attendees can expect. Some highlights of what A.I. Day will entail include a keynote speech delivered by Musk, demonstrations in the latest (presumably A.I.) technology given by Tesla engineers, and the pledge that attendees will get an “inside look at what’s next for A.I. at Tesla beyond our vehicle fleet.”

This last part suggests Tesla is now looking beyond the failed robotaxi fantasies of yore, and, as The Street notes, it might have something to do with now-deleted tweets from UCLA engineering professor Dennis Hong alluding to Tesla’s “secret project”.

Hong also tweeted a photo of a multilayered chip along with the date and time of A.I. Day but gave little description to what the chip was or how Tesla was using it beyond the cryptic “silence can never be misquoted.” So far, Tesla has made no public suggestion about what A.I. technology it is developing beyond their vehicles’ Autopilot.

Dennis Hong posts a photo of the unidentified chip.

Although much of what the invitation describes has to do with sharing Tesla’s behind-the-scenes progress, Musk said in July that the primary goal of A.I. Day was to recruit new hires. This is also different from the purpose of 2019’s Autonomy Day, which was primarily dedicated to sharing Tesla’s robotaxi goals with investors. Notably, Tesla’s Autopilot page also has an open application section for people who have done “exceptional work [...] in software, hardware, or A.I.”

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In other Musk news …

T-minus the internet

A ranked list of everything Musk-related and online, handpicked weekly with bionic precision.

10. A YouTuber turned herself into Jeff Bezos. (With makeup, it’s chillingly accurate.)

9. The real Jeff Bezos is still mad at NASA. Blue Origin posted an infographic describing NASA’s lunar contract with SpaceX as a “flawed acquisition”. Read more.

8. MIT has a clean energy startup simulator if you ever wanted to pretend to do that. Read more.

7. Tesla was left out of the White House’s electric vehicle event and no one knows why. Except for Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who suggested Tesla’s lack of unionized employees was a problem. Unions are a collective good — who knew!

6. Musk’s companies may not have unions, but they do have branded bars. And they’re hiring. Read more.

5. Netflix will document SpaceX’s first all-civilian mission, the Inspiration4 mission. This September, we’re streaming space.

4. “Astronaut manager” Christina Korp wrote a Twitter thread about her and Buzz Aldrin’s unsuccessful trip to SpaceX nine years ago. Aldrin was hoping Musk would be interested in the Cycler, the Martian spacecraft he created. He wasn’t, but he did deliver on building the “big fucking rocket” he promised. Read more.

3. Your Mars citizenship is pending. NASA is looking for four “motivated” U.S. residents to participate in the first of a three-year-long simulated Mars mission. Read more.

2. A small win for the Tesla employees who have been speaking up about on-site discrimination for years. Former employee Melvin Berry was awarded $1 million after Tesla “failed to stop his supervisors from calling him the ‘N-word.’” Read more.

1. And a piece of Musk history: In light of all the Elon Musk biography news, let’s revisit a short profile that Fast Company published in 2005, only three years after the founding of SpaceX and just one year after Musk joined Tesla as an investor. Some essential things to Musk at the time included multi-planetary living, making rockets affordable, and the idea that if “things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.” Fame hasn't changed him!

The ultra-fine print — This has been Musk Reads #259, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Ashley Bardhan, assistant to Musk Reads. I’ll be taking over the Monday newsletter for the summer.

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