Earlier this week, Elon Musk tweeted an article from Bloomberg that discusses the regular online attacks he receives. It appears that right-wing groups with ties to the fossil fuel industry may be behind efforts to damage the reputation of Elon and his companies. As one commenter stated, buying a Tesla is increasingly a political statement.
In the spirit of black friday I've offered discounts on both the premium version of this newsletter, and our SpaceX & Tesla themed apparel. I almost never do this, so I recommend checking out the deals below :)
Thank-you so much for being part of this newsletter, and have an excellent rest of your day!
♦ Featured Quote ♦
"If you're trying to create a company, it's important to limit the number of miracles needed in a series."
In the spirit of Black Friday, I'm offering 25% off Elon Musk News Premium to the first 25 people who sign up today! This will sell out. If you want to go premium - or if you have an Elon Musk fan on your Christmas list - here's your chance to get a great deal.
Musk attracts an unusually large and varied number of shrouded online attacks, including phony op-ed pieces, websites with shadowy backers, and individuals who hide behind aliases. "These are tools used by those who don't have facts on their side," says Sarah O'Brien, a spokeswoman for Tesla, the electric car maker Musk co-founded and runs. Diverse business interests mean Musk has numerous rivals. "It seems like he's got a lot of people who don't like him," says Brian Walsh, a partner with Rokk Solutions, a Washington, D.C., communications firm.
On Sunday reddit user codercotton posted images and a short video of a Falcon 9 first-stage booster on Interstate 10 in Arizona, bound for Vandenberg Air Force Base in southern California from the company's test facilities in McGregor, Texas. This is the booster for the launch of 10 satellites owned by Iridium, a Virginia-based satellite communications company. Later, Iridium's chief executive, Matt Desch, tweeted, "Stage 1 arriving in California for our launch. Soon, very soon."
However it is not certain that Iridium will fly first on SpaceX. Several companies are maneuvering for that high-profile launch, including EchoStar and its own communications satellite. Unlike the Iridium flight, the EchoStar payload will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, where preparations are ongoing to Launch Complex 39A to ready it for flight.
Satellite fleet operator EchoStar Corp. on Nov. 23 said its EchoStar 23 tri-band telecommunications satellite for Brazil is expected to launch Jan. 8 or Jan. 9 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
The launch will follow the Falcon 9's anticipated December launch, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, of 10 Iridium Communications satellites into low Earth orbit. The Iridium launch will mark SpaceX's return to flight following the Sept. 1 explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket. Some time before the Iridium launch, SpaceX is expected to brief insurance underwriters on the root cause of the Sept. 1 failure, if one has been found, and on proposed corrective actions.
On Tuesday NASA announced that it is tapping Elon Musk's company to help send a first of its kind scientific mission into orbit in five years' time. The Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission, or SWOT, as it's called, is the first-ever global survey of Earth's surface water. Every 21 days, the satellite will survey at least 90 percent of the planet twice in order to "collect detailed measurements of how water bodies on Earth change over time."
The launch, which will cost NASA approximately $112 million, is scheduled to take place in April 2021 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from California's Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Port Canaveral has reached a tentative five-year lease agreement with SpaceX, which will operate a rocket refurbishing facility there. As part of the deal, SpaceX will continue to work out of a 53,360-square-foot building at the port that formerly was used by SpaceHab.
SpaceX currently is using that facility at 620 Magellan Road, occupying the building under terms of a month-to-month temporary use permit. It also plans to build a 44,000-square-foot hangar building on the 4-acre site. SpaceX operates two launch pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Kennedy Space Center, but has needed more room since it began landing Falcon 9 rocket boosters last December.
On Saturday, Elon Musk shared a video that showed how Tesla's Hardware 2 will utilize the radar detection system to "see" the world and identify other cars and objects on the road. The feature is an expansion of the existing Autopilot mode, which allows for simple highway driving and lane switching, but the advanced nature of full autonomy means the company is holding off releasing the self-driving mode until it can perfect it with as much data as possible.
Adding to the rumors that Tesla might be working on adding augmented reality features to its vehicles, Tesla this month hired one of the top industrial designers of the HoloLens, Microsoft's augmented reality headset.
It's Tesla's second hire from Microsoft's HoloLens program after having hired one of the computer vision scientists from the program last year. Andrew Kim, Senior Designer for HoloLens & New Devices at Microsoft, changed his LinkedIn profile this week to list his new job as 'Lead Designer' at Tesla's Design Studio in Hawthorne, California.
When Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the release of the 100 kWh battery pack, he said that the automaker was only planning to make it available in the performance versions of the Model S and X (P100D) for the first few months of production since he was anticipating a lot of demand for it. But the non-performance version, 100D, is also highly anticipated since it will be the automaker's longest range car and consequently, the world's electric vehicle with the longest range by a significant margin.
Of course, it's also expected to be cheaper than its performance counterpart. Now the vehicle looks closer to release than ever since Tesla added the new '100D' badge to the Model S and Model X online design studios. The change was first spotted yesterday by Tesla subreddit moderator 110110. The badge was added to the source code of the configurator, but it isn't public and can't be selected just yet.
Ever since the LA Times published an article last year titled 'Elon Musk's growing empire is fueled by government subsidies' claiming that his companies received $4.9 billion in government support, it has been used by detractors to associate subsidies to Tesla – including in the recent 'Stop Elon From Failing Again' campaign from Citizens for the Republic.
Musk suggested that the report, which was grossly misleading on some of the subsidies as explained in our breakdown, could have been planted to counter the IMF study that found that the fossil fuel industry was receiving the equivalent of ~$5 trillion in subsidies per year. He didn't offer any proof of that, but both stories suspiciously came out around the same time.
According to Good Jobs First, a national policy resource center that logged over half a million subsidy awards given through 972 state and federal subsidy programs, Tesla should be the last company you should care about if you are worried about public money going to corporations.
After shareholders approved the decision with a strong 85% majority last week, Tesla announced Monday morning that it officially closed the SolarCity acquisition. A spokesperson sent out the following statement: "We're pleased to announce that Tesla's acquisition of SolarCity closed this morning."
The main technical development now that the merger officially closed is that SolarCity's stock stopped trading Monday morning ahead of its delisting. As for the actual changes to the business, now that Tesla is selling cars and energy, the company is operating in two different trillion-dollar industries.
The island of Ta'u in American Samoa, which has acquired power largely through diesel generators, is now nearing a year-long completion of a microgrid of Tesla Energy solar panels and batteries. The result will be a supply of nearly 100 percent of power needs for Ta'u's 600 residents and a showcase for the recent Tesla-SolarCity merger.
Many island communities rely on diesel to maintain an electrical grid. But diesel is a fossil fuel that contributes to climate change, is costly to ship, and can lead to frequent temporary blackouts. The whole island has been outfitted with a microgrid comprised of 5,328 solar panels from SolarCity and Tesla, along with 60 Tesla Powerpack units for energy storage. The system will allow the island to stay fully powered for three full days without sunlight, and its capacity will recharge fully in seven hours.
Hyperloop One has reached a settlement with its departed co-founder and three other employees who sued it for breach of contract and other alleged wrongdoing. The settlement, announced Friday, ends a high-profile legal tussle that aired a series of salacious accusations against the company and revealed intense in-fighting.
The SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition attracted more than 1,200 submissions, and SpaceX selected 124 of them to present their designs to a panel of judges back in January. One of those companies, VicHyper, made it through to the next round, and has just unveiled its pod design that will be tested on SpaceX's 1-mile (1.6-km) long track in January 2017.
Project leader Zac McClelland says they heeded SpaceX's requirement by perfecting their brake and acceleration system: "With our design, we're mainly focusing on the braking and acceleration side," he says. "So we're putting in technology that can be used on wheels, or maglev or air bearing vehicles."