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♦ Note From The Curator ♦
The top three stories in this issue of Elon Musk News are:
In this issue a Model S P100D sets a new 0-60 record, SpaceX will launch a lethal pathogen to the ISS for study, an Australian Parliament committee recommends Hyperloop as an alternative to high-speed rail, and much more!
I also want to let you know that my designer just finished a new design featuring SpaceX's upcoming Big F***ing Rocket. I'm really happy with how it turned out! If you're a SpaceX fan, you can check it out here.
Thank-you so much for being part of this community, and enjoy issue 70!
♦ Featured Quote ♦
"People shouldn't think 'I feel fear about this and therefore shouldn't do it.' It's normal to feel fear, like you'd have to have something mentally wrong if you didn't feel fear."
The Tweet, posted late Friday night, shows a worker with a step ladder deep underground as the business end of a tunnel boring machine is being configured. Interestingly, there appears to be another completed tunnel in the photo. The camera seems to be located in a vertical shaft which is presumably located somewhere on SpaceX property.
Tesla and SpaceX have joined an amicus brief filed by 97 tech companies in support of the state of Washington in its lawsuit against the federal government. The suit is challenging an executive order signed by President Trump that would temporarily halt issuance of travel and work visas to citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries. In a statement, a Tesla spokesperson said that "as soon as we saw the brief this morning, we insisted on being added."
SpaceX engineers are preparing to mount a Falcon 9 rocket at Kennedy Space Center's historic launch pad 39A for the first time this week as the company declares the modified facility ready to support a new era of commercial space missions.
SpaceX is prepping the rocket for a launch targeted for around 10:01 a.m. EST (1501 GMT) on Feb. 18 with a Dragon cargo craft flying to the International Space Station. The commercial supply ship is slated to carry 5,266 pounds (2,389 kilograms) of equipment and experiments to the orbiting laboratory.
A deadly Superbug that's incredibly resistant to current antibiotics will be part of an upcoming SpaceX mission. Sponsored by NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), SpaceX will launch a lethal pathogen into space and deliver it to the International Space Station (ISS) in a near-zero gravity experiment to assess accelerated mutation rates of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. Outer space offers an entirely different environment than earth, so the study can see if mutation patterns will occur in space that have not yet happened on earth. Of particular interest are gene expression and mutation patterns.
According to internal White House advisory documents there's a huge push from many advisors for NASA to be used as a driver for privatized space technology; however, that push is bringing the rift between traditional NASA contractors and the "new space" companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin to a head.
Earlier this week, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) surprised its audience by endorsing NASA's Space Launch System (SLS), the heavy lift rocket being built to launch future NASA missions. [However,] the billions of dollars it will take to fully develop SLS plus the high cost of launch missions is hard to justify when, for example, SpaceX estimates under $100 million dollars per flight on its upcoming heavy launch vehicle, Falcon Heavy.
The pushback of Tesla's fourth quarter earnings call to February 22, and two days after Model 3 pilot production begins, isn't a coincidence. "What better way to stoke the fan base and Wall Street than to wheel out pre-production models" ahead of the earnings announcement, said one person familiar with Tesla's plans who spoke on condition of anonymity.
A spokesperson for Tesla declined to comment on the company's production schedule, but said "our ramp-up in production moves as fast as the slowest and least lucky supplier." Musk had told investors last year that the company could miss the July 2017 startup target if suppliers do not meet deadlines.
Elon Musk says Tesla became the victim of an elaborate ploy by the United Auto Workers Union, after an alleged employee's Medium post went viral on Thursday.
Musk, however, says the whole thing is bunk. "Our understanding is that this guy [Moran] was paid by the UAW to join Tesla and agitate for a union. He doesn't really work for us, he works for the UAW... Frankly, I find this attack to be morally outrageous. Tesla is the last car company left in California, because costs are so high. The UAW killed NUMMI and abandoned the workers at our Fremont plant in 2010. They have no leg to stand on."
The 4,891-pound Tesla Model S P100D accelerates to 30, 40, 50, and 60 mph from a standstill more quickly than any other production vehicle we've ever tested, full stop. In our testing, no production car has ever cracked 2.3 seconds from 0 to 60 mph. But Tesla has, in 2.275507139 seconds.
Tesla has activated a new feature that allows drivers to see real-time Supercharger occupancy information directly from the vehicle's onboard map. It's part of the company's continued effort to devise ways to combat Supercharger congestion ahead of Model 3 deliveries that are expected to put upwards of 500k vehicles per year onto streets, once the company reaches full production.
The fact that Tesla is testing a Model 3 with a 70 kWh battery configuration doesn't necessarily mean that it would be an option after the test mule program is over, but it's the best indicator of an actual Model 3 configuration we have so far. A Model 3 70D configuration could enable close to 300 miles of range on a single charge, which would be in-line with our report from last year that Tesla was aiming for the high-end version of the car to have over 300 miles of range.
A Model 3 70D would certainly be more expensive than the $35,000 base version. We know that Tesla aims for the 2wd base vehicle to travel over 215 miles of range on a single charge. Based on the similar efficiency estimates, it would make the pack between 50 and 55 kWh.
The group has published research to identify "unwanted parasitic reactions" that degrade batteries and reduce their lifetime. They are trying to eliminate all those reactions, which would result in a longevity breakthrough for li-ion batteries to last for decades without losing capacity.
Baum and Associates' report was part of an effort to estimate the actual impact of a border tax on the auto industry. The emphasis of the report was the possible impact on customers based on the increased costs inflicted on automakers. Because Tesla assembles every one of its cars in its Fremont, California facility, it would escape a "border tax" on a finished product, like automakers who assemble cars in Mexico and ship them across the border. Although Tesla gets off easy in that respect, Alan Baum made it clear that the company may face unseen costs on imported parts.
Brogan BamBrogan, the former SpaceX engineer who was dramatically ousted last year from Hyperloop One, the futuristic transportation company he helped found, just launched his own company. It's called Arrivo, which is Italian for "you've arrived," and will be located less than a mile from LA headquarters of BamBrogan's former co-founders and now rivals, Hyperloop One.
The company plans to build its own hyperloop. In addition to BamBrogan as CEO, the company's founders include five former executives and engineers from Hyperloop One, as well as two engineers from SpaceX and AECOM, a global construction firm that built SpaceX's mile-long hyperloop test track.
The Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities' created by Australia's Parliament has recommended the government to explore the use of Hyperloop technology as an alternative to investing in high speed rail systems. Ultraspeed Australia's Sean Duggan says the Hyperloop could create a network of "30-minute cities." That concept has special resonance for Australians. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made it a central theme in his latest election campaign.