04 ottobre 2017

Elon Musk News - Issue 103

Elon Musk News - Issue 103
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Note From The Curator
The top three stories in this issue of Elon Musk News are:
  1. Elon Musk plans to put all of SpaceX's resources into its Mars rocket
  2. Musk Wants to Build a Rocket That Will Get You Anywhere on Earth in an Hour
  3. First look at Tesla's new 'most powerful battery system in the world' project in Australia
On Friday in Australia Musk delivered another fascinating talk at this years International Astronautical Congress. The main highlights being that SpaceX plans to pivot away from their Falcon 9 and Dragon programs to divert all their resources into the BFR which will then be used to launch satellites and service the ISS. In a surprise announcement, Musk also stated that the BFR will be used to fly people anywhere on earth in under and hour, build a moon base, and of course travel to Mars with ~ 100 passengers!

If you haven't already, I highly recommend watching the talk on Youtube.

Thanks so much for being part of the community, and enjoy issue 103!

Featured Quote
"We can build a system that cannibalizes our own products, makes our own products redundant, then all the resources we use for Falcon Heavy and Dragon can be applied to one system."
— Elon Musk

From SpaceX
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Elon Musk said he hopes to finance his plans to colonize Mars by making SpaceX's entire fleet of vehicles — the Falcon 9, the Falcon Heavy, and the Dragon spacecraft — obsolete. "All our resources will turn toward building BFR," Musk said. "And we believe we can do this with the revenue we receive from launching satellites and servicing the space station." Musk also announced he's planning to scale down the BFR, proposing 31 main engines this year. Last year at the same conference, Musk unveiled the combo rocket-and-spaceship's design, which included 42 main Raptor engines.

Musk also proposed a variety of new uses for the scaled-down rocket beyond just going to Mars. Supposedly, the ITS can be used to launch satellites, take cargo to the International Space Station, and even do lunar missions to set up a Moon base. SpaceX's current Falcon 9 fleet is used to do a few of those things already, but Musk says eventually the company will turn to the ITS to do all of its space missions.

Musk says the cost of launching cargo on the ITS will be fairly cheap, too, since the rocket and spaceship will be a fully reusable system — unlike the Falcon 9, which is only 70 to 80 percent reusable. Last year, Musk claimed the first crews would start flying to the Red Planet as early as 2024. This year, he said the first two cargo ITS ships will launch to Mars in 2022. That's just five years to create an entirely new rocket, send it to another planet, and land it on the surface intact.
Elon Musk is planning to build a new rocket ship code named "BFR" capable of traveling anywhere on Earth in under an hour. If the concept becomes reality, Musk said a journey from New York to Shanghai can be done in about 30 minutes. The surprise announcement means that SpaceX plans to ferry humans not just to distant planets but across this one as well, setting up a potentially competitive challenge to the commercial airline industry.

"If we are going to places like Mars, why not Earth?" Musk said. Toward the end of Musk's presentation, animation played on a big screen behind him, showing scores of people getting on a high-speed ferry in New York, then boarding the BFR on a platform in the water. "Fly to most places on Earth in under 30 mins and anywhere in under 60," Musk wrote in an Instagram post after he'd left the stage without taking questions. "Cost per seat should be about the same as full fare economy in an aircraft. Forgot to mention that."
SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced Friday that his space exploration plans now include not just Mars but also the moon. Speaking at the IAC in Adelaide, Australia, Musk revealed the company's planned next-generation rocket will make it possible to build a moon base. Musk's proposed name for the base is Moon Base Alpha, which is a reference to the 1970s British cult classic Space: 1999.
In a presentation given at MIT, SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell revealed a considerable amount of exciting information. Shotwell confirmed that SpaceX is currently attempting to procure nuclear materials in order to conduct research and development of nuclear propulsion for spacecraft. Nuclear-powered methods of propulsion have the potential to drastically increase the efficiency of spacecraft once in orbit, with the primary benefit being faster travel times around the Solar System.

Equally exciting, she stated that SpaceX plans to attempt the first soft landing of Falcon 9's upper stage before the end of 2018. Shotwell clarified that SpaceX would not attempt to reuse Falcon 9's upper stage, even if recovery efforts succeed. This suggests that SpaceX is planning to focus the majority of its research and development staff and capital on their considerably larger "BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) planetary colonizer" vehicle. Finally, Shotwell briefly discussed SpaceX's desire to create a vast constellation of Internet satellites around Earth, stating that their goal was "make scads of cash, spend it going to Mars, [and] give Mars broadband too!".
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission dealt the project a setback Tuesday with a decision that could force power reductions on SpaceX satellites, and potentially limit the spectrum they can use, making them less effective. The regulator on a 5-0 vote decided to defer in part to the International Telecommunication Union, an agency of the United Nations, on how these new satellite systems need to coordinate and share spectrum.

The ITU works on a first-come, first-served basis, so operators that already secured spectrum for their constellations have priority when satellites inevitably line up with each other in space and their beams cross, threatening to cause interference. This means SpaceX will have to coordinate with rivals such as OneWeb and Telesat, which are closely held. OneWeb has priority in one band of spectrum outside the U.S., while Telesat has priority in another band in some parts of the world. This means SpaceX will have to restrict the power of its satellites' signals in some cases, and possibly limit the frequencies it uses.
Zach says: This review was followed up by another at OCDetailing where they take a look at the Model 3 touchscreen. You can watch it here.

We have a first comprehensive look of a gorgeous black Model 3 – inside and out. The Model 3 review video comes to us by way of luxury car detailer and Tesla protective wrap specialist OCDetailing who got their hands on one of the first Long Range Model 3 vehicles. Joe begins his in-depth Model 3 review video with a side-by-side size comparison of the vehicle against the larger Model S sedan and Model X SUV. The video then provides us with a good look at the removable Model 3 aero wheel covers and location for the vehicle's Autopilot cameras, before moving onto a wide angle look at Model 3's expansive glass roof, and beyond.
Earlier this month, Tesla extended its planned Supercharger route in Australia all the way to its new giant Powerpack project. Surprisingly, Tesla already completed the route just in time for the launch of the project on Friday. There are a lot of things that need to come together for Tesla to bring a Supercharger online. They need to arrange for a location with the property owner, acquire a permit with the city, ship the hardware, which is built in California, hire a contractor to install the hardware, and arrange for a connection with the electric utility.

We have seen projects stuck in the permitting or construction phases for months to even a year. But this new Supercharger corridor shows that when things are managed efficiently, Tesla can bring Superchargers online rather quickly. The 4 Supercharger stations between Melbourne and Tesla's Powerpack project north of Adelaide in South Australia were in the permitting and construction phases for just about two weeks before being brought online.
As more Tesla employees and their family members are being invited to configure their Model 3, Tesla is gearing up to open their online design studio to non-employees in early October. Moreover, a source tells Teslarati that Model 3 production is ahead of forecasts and early reservation holders will soon be asked to configure their Model 3.

A user from the Model 3 Owners Club forum and spouse of a Tesla employee posted the following screenshot of the "Design Your Model 3" invitation email they received. "Thank you for reserving a Model 3 and joining our mission to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy. It's time to choose your options and place your order," the invitation reads.
Model S and Model X owners are impacted by the new update and can now refer friends to purchase Tesla solar products. Likewise, Tesla solar customers can refer friends to purchase solar panels or a Model S/X with free unlimited Supercharging. The referral program update that incorporates Tesla's solar offerings will phase out SolarCity's referral program. The update is effective September 28, 2017.

Additionally, for potential Model S and Model X buyers looking to capitalize on the instant $1,000 discount off the purchase vehicle price by using a Tesla referral code, that discount will be going away on October 31, 2017. Referral sales will still be eligible for free, unlimited Supercharging which is arguably the main appeal for using a referral code.
Tesla's new vehicle is using a phone-based unlocking system with a key card system as a backup. Now we obtained the company's FCC application for the system – giving us more insights into how it works. Tesla recommends bringing both your phone and key card when driving the Model 3. The user manual also says that Tesla provides two key cards per Model 3. If using the card to enter, the driver has to place the card within two inches under the camera on the driver's side door pillar.

Once the driver has swiped the card, they have 15 seconds to press the brake pedal to power on the car, but they don't have to go back outside and swipe again if they wait longer. There's also another RFID transmitter in the center console. The driver simply has to place the card behind the cup holders for another 15-second authentication period. But using this system is not the most convenient way to unlock and start driving your Model 3. Tesla also explains how to use the card to authenticate your smartphone in order to use it instead of the card.
As Tesla's cars have increasing computer power needs, the company is continuously looking to improve on those systems. Latest rumors suggested they are looking to design their own chips for Autopilot and moving to Intel for the infotainment system. Now we are able to confirm the exact computing solution that Tesla developed for Model 3. Tesla developed a fairly impressive custom liquid-cooled dual computing platform with both its Autopilot and infotainment computers built onto two different boards in the same module.

On one side, there's the infotainment Electronic Control Unit (ECU) or MCU now powered by the Intel Gordon Peak BMP and Intel Apollo Lake system-on-chip instead of Nvidia's Tegra chip in Model S and Model X. And on the other side, there's the Autopilot ECU still powered by the Nvidia GPGPUs.
Tesla updated its online design studio Sunday night to remove the single rear-wheel drive motor option for Model S. The move results in an increase in the base price of Tesla's flagship sedan to $74,500, which is $5,000 more than the now discontinued rear-wheel motor option.

It results in several brand new Model S 75 vehicles being added to Tesla's inventory. Those vehicles are sold as "showroom floor models", but they are mostly new vehicles with very low mileage that have just been manufactured. The move appears to have something to do with better differentiating the base version of Model S with the new Model 3, which is now the only Tesla model offered with a single rear-wheel drive motor.
Tesla Energy
Today, Tesla held an event to 'celebrate' their new giant Powerpack project in Australia. The company gave a first look at the project and confirmed that they signed the interconnection agreement with the local utility, which was the requirement to start the deadline for Elon Musk's bet to "deliver the project in 100 days or it's free."

Tesla and Neoen, the wind power company operating the wind farm at the project, have now 100 days to complete the project after having signed the interconnection agreement with Electranet, which was approved by the utility authority. Several of the Powerpacks are already installed and operational since Tesla powered the event with the packs, but the battery installation is not completed yet.
Tesla is sending to Puerto Rico hundreds of its Powerwall battery systems that can be paired with solar panels in an effort to help the battered island territory restore electric power, the company said Thursday. Some of the systems are already there and others are en route. The equipment is sorely needed, since the island remains largely without electricity more than a week after Hurricane Maria made landfall on Sept. 20. The company has employees on the ground to install them and is working with local organizations to identify locations.
Logan City in south-east Queensland installed a solar power system on their new water disinfection plant, but they still needed a grid connection for when the sun is not shining. Instead, they installed a single Tesla Powerpack battery system to go off-grid. The system was so far from the grid that it would have cost them $1.9 million ($1.5 million USD) to get a connection.

They didn't disclose how much they paid for the Powerpack and inverter, but it was quoted for around $100,000 before installation when Tesla used to have an online Powerpack project price calculator. That system combined with the solar installation is expected to power the water treatment facility 24 hours a day.
Daimler AG, parent company to Mercedes-Benz, has responded to Elon Musk's tweet that the company was "off by a zero" when it pledged to invest $1 billion in growing its electric vehicle manufacturing footprint. The German-based automotive giant which reported $180 billion in revenue in 2016 confirmed that they have upped the ante and will invest at least $10 billion in development of next-generation electric vehicles and over $1 billion in battery production.

Mercedes brand executive Markus Schäfer stated, "We are significantly growing our manufacturing footprint here in Alabama, while sending a clear message to our customers across the U.S. and around the world: Mercedes-Benz will continue to be on the cutting-edge of electric vehicle development and production."
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