This issue features an interview with SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, an article about planetary protection, Tesla's addition to the top 100 best global brands, and much more!
I also want to express a big thank-you to everyone who gave design ideas for upcoming SpaceX & Tesla themed shirts! If you have an idea for a shirt, let me know. I'll give you $50 & a free shirt if I use your design.
Thank-you for being part of this newsletter, and enjoy Issue 50!
P.S. Thank-you to eMotorWerks for making this newsletter possible
"[Physics is] a good framework for thinking. … Boil things down to their fundamental truths and reason up from there."
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In July, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk revealed that he was reading a largely forgotten 1929 bestseller: William Bolitho's "Twelve Against the Gods," an 87-year-old book dedicated to adventure and the memory of famous adventurers. As Bloomberg reported, copies of the book immediately were scarce. The work is currently available on Amazon for a not-at-all intimidating $575.
It's a good read for anyone who's interested in history or looking to find some motivation to switch things up and break the rules. Although, take everything with a grain of salt — don't get yourself so hyped up that you declare yourself a god and try to conquer everything from Greece to India.
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell on Oct. 5 said the company remains optimistic it will return to flight this year after the Sept. 1 explosion that destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket and its satellite payload in preparation for a static test fire.
Shotwell reiterated that the causes of a June 2015 Falcon 9 launch failure and the Sept. 1 incident appear to be unrelated and that the company is combing through data on operations as it searches for a root cause.
Addressing the APSCC 2016 conference, Shotwell also said Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX is offering a 10 percent discount to customers that agree to fly their payloads on reused Falcon 9 first stages.
A space battle is being fought on Capitol Hill, and a fleet of rocket companies are using millions of lobbying dollars to wage it. The core struggle is between SpaceX, founded in 2002 by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, and United Launch Alliance (ULA), which is jointly owned by aerospace giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
At stake is roughly $70 billion worth of Pentagon satellite launch contracts through 2030, plus what some members of Congress argue is the safety of future astronauts.
If Elon Musk's Mars colony becomes a reality, he won't be sending just humans to the Red Planet; he'll be sending trillions of hitchhiking microbes as well. Such a biological invasion seemingly clashes with a concept known as planetary protection — avoiding the "harmful contamination" of other worlds. Given the likelihood of a human colony to spread microbes, does that put a stop to Musk's Mars ambitions?
Not exactly. A human settlement isn't incompatible with planetary protection. In fact, those who came up with the concept did so with future Mars settlements in mind. "It was fully recognized that humans could potentially colonize Mars in the future," Catherine Conley, NASA's planetary protection officer, tells The Verge.
Boeing top dog Dennis Muilenburg just issued a public challenge to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk: On Tuesday, Muilenburg told an audience at The Atlantic's "What's Next?" conference that "the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding on a Boeing rocket." That Boeing rocket would be NASA's Space Launch System. Musk, who last week presented SpaceX's plan to begin colonizing Mars within the next decade, would disagree. Much is at stake: Whoever wins will literally change humanity forever.
Tesla has entered, for the first time, Interbrand's Best Global Brands list as a company with the most customer influence and brand presence, joining the likes Apple, Google and Coca-Cola who head up the pack as top three. The brand consultancy agency, which has produced the report for the past 17 years, ranks major corporations based on the financial performance of their product and service offerings, their ability to influence customer choice, and whether the brand can command a premium price and secure earnings for the company.
If you listen to the media and industry analysts, there's an ongoing battle between the Tesla Model 3 and the Chevy Bolt EV over market shares in the midsize electric vehicle segment. That's even before either car hits the market. I've already argued that it's a nonexistent battle but it feels like we need to clarify further.
Over a year ago, I wrote "GM is making a $37,500 car that would sell for $20,000 if it wasn't electric, while Tesla is trying to make a $35,000 car that would sell for $35,000 if it wasn't electric," and I still think it's true today now that we know more about both vehicles.
Tesla Motors filed suit in the US district court against Michigan state officials after having been rebuffed in its quest to sell cars directly to customers. The suit asks the court to declare that Michigan's franchise dealer law violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as the Commerce Clause.
At the time the suit was filed, a spokesperson for the company said, "Solving this legislatively always has been and continues to be Tesla's preferred option. For the last two years, Tesla has pursued legislation in Michigan that is fair to everyone and that would benefit Michigan consumers."
Model S and X owners have been asking for an update to the browser for a long time and unfortunately, it didn't come with the recent 8.0 update, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk said yesterday that it will with an upcoming update, which will likely be in December.
Gendron is the CEO of Transpod, a Toronto startup stepping into the Hyperloop game. While competitors like Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies plan to develop the entire system, Transpod and its 30 employees concentrate only on the pod that will shoot through the tubes at 700 mph or more. "We're not designing an entire airplane here," he says.
Last month, at the InnoTrans trade show in Berlin, Gendron revealed what remains very much a concept of the Transpod. Renderings reveal a 10-ton vehicle 82 feet long, capable of carrying 10 tons of passengers or freight.
A source with SolarCity's engineering group said that the product unveiled by Forward Labs through a Kickstarter campaign last month is of interest to SolarCity and its Zep Solar division, which manufactures the mounting equipment for the company's solar panels, because it is "very similar" to the solar roof product they are working on.
The source confirmed that the product is being developed in direct collaboration with Tesla. CEO Elon Musk said that Tesla was aiming to unveil the product by the end of October, presumably once the merger of the two companies will be completed. But several lawsuits from Tesla investors could push the shareholders vote and ultimately delay the merger.
Think it would be cool to be born on Earth and die on Mars? Get the limited edition shirt or hoodie, only available here. We also sell other limited edition SpaceX & Tesla themed shirts and hoodies, view the whole collection.