07 luglio 2017

Elon Musk News - Issue 91

Elon Musk News - Issue 91
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Note From The Curator
The top three stories in this issue of Elon Musk News are:
  1. SpaceX delivers for Intelsat on heavyweight Falcon 9 mission
  2. Tesla Powerpack to Enable Large Scale Sustainable Energy to South Australia
  3. Tesla Model 3 production two weeks ahead of schedule, first car expected July 7
It has been an uncharacteristically mixed week for Tesla. Their stock is down ~14% since last Friday, and the IIHS did not award Tesla it's top safety rating. On the other hand, Tesla just landed a major win with a contract from the South Australian Government to install the largest energy storage system in the world. At a press conference in Australia, Elon Musk re-confirmed that Tesla will do this in 100 days or it's free. Tesla has also announced that they will produce the first Model 3 with serial number 1 today!

On the SpaceX front, they successfully launched Intelsat 35e on Wednesday. SpaceX has now beaten it's own annual launch record, and is on pace to making this the busiest year for any private launch provider in history.

Thanks so much for being part of this community and enjoy issue 91!

Featured Quote
"I'm interested in things that change the world or that affect the future and wondrous, new technology where you see it and you're like, 'Wow, how did that even happen? How is that possible?'"
— Elon Musk

From CBS
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Wednesday's mission — the third SpaceX launch in 12 days — carried the Boeing-built Intelsat 35e communications satellite toward a perch in geostationary orbit 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) over the equator. The commercial spacecraft weighed around 14,900 pounds (6,761 kilograms) at launch, the heaviest payload SpaceX has ever launched to such a high orbit. SpaceX committed all of the Falcon 9's propellant to send the Intelsat satellite into the highest orbit possible, a ride designed to minimize the spacecraft's own fuel consumption as it maneuvers into its final operating position.

SpaceX intended to launch the Intelsat 35e mission Sunday, but software errors led to computer-triggered aborts at T-minus 10 seconds during back-to-back countdowns Sunday and Monday. John Insprucker, the Falcon 9's principal integration engineer who provided launch commentary on SpaceX's webcast, said ground software halted Monday's launch attempt because a measurement in the first stage avionics system did not match a pre-programmed limit in a ground database.
The uncrewed capsule, launched in early June after having been used back in September 2014, made its return to Earth and splashed down into the Pacific Ocean after delivering a shipment of new supplies and resources to the ISS. Before Monday, no other privately-owned craft had gone to the ISS and returned to the Earth more than once — all other non-SpaceX vehicles had burned up in the atmosphere.

NASA astronaut Jeff Fischer, currently aboard the ISS, was incredibly enthusiastic about the return. "I could even say it was slathered in awesome sauce," he told mission control in Houston. "This baby has had almost no problems, which is an incredible feat considering it's the first reuse of a Dragon vehicle…"
With its successful launch of a communications satellite Wednesday night, SpaceX has flown ten rockets this year. SpaceX has now beat its own annual record, and the firm is on pace to out-launch its key rivals in the commercial launch market, Europe's Arianespace and United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

These flights generated well over $500 million in revenue for the company, and SpaceX isn't finished yet. There are still at least ten more flights on its 2017 manifest, which, if completed, would make this the busiest year for a private rocket launcher in history—and mean that SpaceX launched more rockets itself than the entire United States in 2016.
While SpaceX is still working toward its ultimate goal—a 24-hour turnaround for previously-flown rocket stages—it has come a long way since it filed a patent in 2004, just two years after its founding, for an important engine component that does not require replacement after every flight, since "reusable rockets are very desirable designs from a cost reduction standpoint." (It is still the only patent the company owns; Elon Musk doesn't believe in them.) Here is a history of that journey, from the very first launch to the most recent landing.
The long awaited "Model 3 news" that Elon Musk teased on Friday arrived late Sunday evening via twitter. Tesla Model 3 production is two weeks ahead of schedule and the first Model 3 vehicle is expected to roll off the production line this Friday, July 7. "Model 3 passed all regulatory requirements for production two weeks ahead of schedule. Expecting to complete SN1 on Friday" read the tweet. Though Musk did not explicitly state what "SN1" meant, it's largely presumed to signify serial number 1 or the first official production Model 3 vehicle. The news is significant in that it's the first time we're hearing confirmation from Elon Musk that the Model 3 is going into production.
Tesla will hold a Model 3 'handover party' otherwise known as the Model 3 launch event on Friday, July 28. Elon Musk tweeted that the first 30 customers will be presented keys to their vehicles. Expected in the event is a presentation by Musk touting Model 3's features, including its battery range and performance. The first batch of Model 3 vehicles produced will be single motor rear-wheel drive vehicles, followed by a dual motor and performance variant of the Model 3 in early 2018.
Tesla confirmed its delivery numbers for the most recent quarter and it managed to reach the lower-end of delivery goal. They confirmed having delivered "just over 22,000 vehicles in Q2, of which just over 12,000 were Model S and just over 10,000 were Model X" from April through June 2017. Tesla had been previously guiding a delivery goal of 47,000 to 50,000 vehicles for the first half of the year. After delivering 25,051 vehicles during the first quarter, it pushes deliveries to "approximately 47,100." The company attributes hitting the lower end of its guidance to difficulties ramping up production of the 100 kWh battery pack. They wrote in a press release:

"The major factor affecting Tesla's Q2 deliveries was a severe production shortfall of 100 kWh battery packs, which are made using new technologies on new production lines. The technology challenge grows exponentially with energy density. Until early June, production averaged about 40% below demand. Once this was resolved, June orders and deliveries were strong, ranking as one of the best in Tesla history."
After the Tesla Model S failed to achieve the top crash rating from IIHS last year, the company claimed to have made a 'production change' to improve results on the small overlap test, which was the only issue to obtain the top rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tested the vehicle again with the modifications, but they say that it had the same results and therefore, the rating didn't change.

In the original test, IIHS said that the safety belt of the Model S "allowed the dummy's torso to move too far forward." Today, they issued a press release stating that they obtained the same results in the second test. Tesla responded in a statement suggesting that the test was designed to suit the IIHS's "own subjective purposes" The Model S did indeed receive the highest safety rating from NHTSA, which doesn't perform the small overlap crash test.
A Tesla spokesperson confirmed to Electrek that they are rolling out new software and hardware improvements that are enabling those performance enhancements. Since the enhancements include hardware upgrades, those new specs are for new vehicles being built today and not the current fleet. The improvements are more significant for the base versions of the Model S. The Model S 75 and its dual motor version are both gaining a full second of acceleration from 0 to 60 mph. As for the more recent Model S 100D, it's also seeing a slight improvement in acceleration [of 0.1 seconds]. The bigger Model X, which is only available with dual motor, is also seeing some new performance enhancements [1.1 seconds faster for the 75D, and .5 seconds for the 100D].
Tesla has finally introduced fold-flat seats in Model X with the 7-seat configuration, joining the 5-seat option as the other configuration designed to maximize interior cargo space. The new fold-flat seat design replaces Model X's "floating" second-row monopost base with a more traditional sliding frame mount.

Joining Model X's fold-flat second-row design, previously only available in the five-seat interior option, is the redesigned seven-seat option available as a $3,000 upgrade. A six-seat interior is also available on the Model X which foregoes the center seat in the second-row for either open space or an optional center console. With the second and third row folded completely flat, Model X has an unprecedented 88.0 cubic feet of interior cargo space, besting the 58.1 cubic feet of cargo space found on its sibling Model S premium sedan.
After hitting all-time highs late last month, Tesla shares have plummeted 18 percent as of Thursday's market open, due to a perfect storm of sales concerns, competition and the safety of its cars. A number of Wall Street firms have expressed doubt over Tesla's sales, with Goldman Sachs analyst David Tamberrino leading the charge Wednesday after he lowered his six-month price target for Tesla to $180 from $190, a 49 percent downside from Monday's close.

"Tesla's Q2 production and deliveries report raised more questions than answers, particularly about Model S and X demand," Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi wrote in a note to clients Wednesday, according to CNBC. Also adding to Tesla's woes is its increased competition in the field, with Volvo announcing Wednesday that it will produce only electrified vehicles by 2019. Tesla's 2017 Model S has [also] missed the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) top-safety pick+ rating, citing issues with the small overlap front test.
Two men decided to take their 2015 Midnight Silver Model S 85D on a coast-to-coast Tesla record-breaking journey to raise awareness and donations for human trafficking and freedom. On July 1st at 11:30 p.m PST, Jordan Hart and Bradly D'Souza left the Hotel Portofino in Redondo Beach, California, and proceeded east to arrive three days later, July 4th at 6:17 a.m., at the Red Ball Garage on E 31st St, New York, New York.

In doing so, the duo set a new record for the fastest transcontinental drive in an electric vehicle by arriving in 51 Hours and 47 Minutes, besting the previous record held by Alex Roy. This is also the first time an electric car has surpassed the famous 1933 "Cannonball" transcontinental record set by Erwin G. Baker in a Graham-Paige model 57 Blue Streak 8, setting a 53.5 hour record that stood for nearly 40 years.
We haven't seen a new picture of the Tesla Gigafactory 1 in Nevada in about two months and during that time, they have been busy preparing for the production of Model 3 battery packs and drive units. Now a new aerial shot of the giant battery factory shows lots of activity as they are starting production.

Tesla started the year with about 1,000 employees at Gigafactory 1, but the company also said that it planned to hire about 1,000 more during the first half of the year alone. On top of that, Tesla's battery cell manufacturing partner, Panasonic, is holding hiring events all year and it is seeking to hire 2,000 workers by the end of 2017. Also, other suppliers are under Tesla's roof and plan to employ hundreds more at the location, like a German battery can maker, H&T Battery Components, who expect to employ over 100 at the Gigafactory.
Tesla Energy
This week, through a competitive bidding process, Tesla was selected to provide a 100 MW/129 MWh Powerpack system to be paired with global renewable energy provider Neoen's Hornsdale Wind Farm near Jamestown, South Australia. Tesla was awarded the entire energy storage system component of the project.

Tesla Powerpack will charge using renewable energy from the Hornsdale Wind Farm and then deliver electricity during peak hours to help maintain the reliable operation of South Australia's electrical infrastructure. The Tesla Powerpack system will further transform the state's movement towards renewable energy and see an advancement of a resilient and modern grid. Upon completion by December 2017, this system will be the largest lithium-ion battery storage project in the world and will provide enough power for more than 30,000 homes, approximately equal to the amount of homes that lost power during the blackout period.
Google's DeepMind and OpenAI have teamed up to make practical progress on a problem they argue has attracted too many headlines and too few practical ideas: How do you make smart software that doesn't go rogue? "If you're worried about bad things happening, the best thing we can do is study the relatively mundane things that go wrong in AI systems today," says Dario Amodei, a curly-haired researcher on OpenAI's small team working on AI safety. "That seems less scary and a lot saner than kind of saying, 'You know, there's this problem that we might have in 50 years.'"

OpenAI and DeepMind contributed to a position paper last summer calling for more concrete work on near-term safety challenges in AI. A new paper from the two organizations on a machine learning system that uses pointers from humans to learn a new task, rather than figuring out its own—potentially unpredictable—approach, follows through on that. Amodei says the project shows it's possible to do practical work right now on making machine learning systems less able to produce nasty surprises.
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