Tesla challenges Biden ... SpaceX waits for orbit... Elon Musk boosts an NFT sale. It’s the free edition of Musk Reads #270 — subscribe now to receive two more emails later this week.
Last week, Musk Reads+ members received an exclusive transcript and analysis of Tesla’s third-quarter 2021 earnings call. This week, subscribers will hear from Homer Hickam, the NASA engineer whose story was captured in the film October Sky, about how he inspired a new generation of space explorers.
Musk quote of the week — “Luck is the best superpower.” — Elon Musk tweeted on October 18, reminding us of the futility of the American dream. Just kidding (kind of!) ... Musk’s cross stitch-worthy statement was more likely intended to show gratitude toward Musk’s luck, which has certainly been pretty good so far.
Tesla: Rage against the NHTSA
From his many tweets, it’s clear that Musk is disappointed in the Biden administration’s choice of senior safety advisor at the NHTSA, Dr. Missy Cummings. Not yet appointed, Cummings is a former military pilot and current professor of electric and computer engineering at Duke University. She is also a vocal critic of autonomous driving features, which she has conducted extensive research on throughout her career.
On Twitter, Musk also expressed skepticism in the Biden administration’s nominee for head of the NHTSA, Dr. Steven Cliff, who currently serves as Acting Administrator of the NHTSA. As Tesla fans have somewhat bitterly noted, Cliff oversees a few NHTSA vehicle safety probes, including its ongoing investigation into Tesla.
Although I know that many Tesla fans are concerned (to say the least — there’s a petition against Cummings’ appointment and online harassment prompted Cummings to delete her Twitter account) about what this planned NHTSA board might mean for Tesla, I recommend we all take a collective breath. Government regulations on technology can, understandably, feel like bookends on progress, but when progress involves life or death consequences, it’s important to have guidelines in place. Plus, if Tesla Autopilot is as safe as it claims to be, Tesla fans should have nothing to fear.
In the meantime, Tesla continues to roll out Full Self-Driving updates. The latest update, version 10.3.1, has a few notable upgrades from past versions, like adjustable “FSD profiles,” improved merging, and “static obstacle control.”
SpaceX: Gateway to Mars
Excitingly, Musk announced that Starship will take its orbital flight as soon as next month … as long as the Federal Aviation Administration approves it.
Although you can certainly continue to email the FAA and voice your support, the FAA concluded its public hearings earlier this month. Spaceflight Now reports that, currently, “public comments were more than two-to-one in favor of [...] issuing SpaceX a launch license for the Starship orbital test flight,” which is good news for SpaceX.
It’s worth noting, though, that “many of the comments in favor of SpaceX came from members of the public outside Texas. The share of people who identified themselves as local residents and voiced opposition was higher.”
But, whether you love it or you hate it, SpaceX continues to work on Starbase ...
… and building its gateway to Mars.
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10. Elon Musk received over half a million likes on a repost of a 28-year-old’s bitcoin meme. Now, that 28-year-old is in NFT heaven, selling the meme for five wrapped ether (currently, about $11,000). This is what crypto dreams are made of.
9. TikTok comedian Max Taylor edited a video where he’s dancing at SpaceX and Musk watches him dance, elated, and I just thought it was really funny. Tesla Bot, take notes.
8. The Boring Company recently gained approval to tunnel under the Las Vegas Strip, Allegiant Stadium, and University of Nevada, Las Vegas. A massive win for Teslas in Tunnels that like To Gamble.
7. Musk is making moves both under and above ground — space writer Ari Lewis wrote a thread about the implications of Starlink, the good, the bad, and the Martian. “You can have your opinions about Elon, but it's impossible to bet against the man,” Lewis wrote.
5. A Canadian aerospace company plans to deploy its hypersonic spaceplane, Sexbomb, by dropping it from a “stratospheric balloon that lifts it to 110,000 feet” and letting it glide over Manitoba. Yeah.
3. Thanks to NASA’s Perseverance rover, you can now hear Mars. Sounds like progress.
2. As modern spaceflight improves, so should the diversity of the crews commanding it. Thanks to private companies and initiatives like AstroAccess, a nonprofit dedicated to “advancing disability inclusion in space,” diversity could become the norm, not just an amorphous goal. The company’s recent zero-gravity flight with all-disabled passengers was a success.
1. And a piece of Musk history: Musk is still hammering at his gateway to Mars, but some eager earthlings are already imagining what they’ll do when they pass through it. Earlier this 2021, in May, Musk-dedicated YouTube channel The Tesla Space posted a 16-minute video attempting to answer the impossible question: what will my life be like on Mars? Don’t worry, there’s terraforming.
The ultra-fine print
This has been Musk Reads #270, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Ashley Bardhan, assistant to Musk Reads.
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