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Musk Reads #254
Tesla recalls 285,000 cars; Starlink looks to grow; Musk criticizes his SpaceX competition. It’s the free edition of Musk Reads #254 — subscribe now to receive two more editions later this week,.
Last week, Musk Reads+ subscribers heard from astronaut Leland Melvin about what space’s future might hold. This week, subscribers will hear from space archaeologist Alice Gorman on how Starlink marks a new era for humanity’s exploration.
Musk quote of the week
“Nothing has more degrees of freedom than reality.” — Elon Musk tweeted on July 3 in response to a fan anxiously awaiting the most recent Tesla’s Full Self-Driving beta update. “Didn’t expect [full-self driving] to be so hard,” he wrote in the tweet. “But the difficulty is obvious in retrospect.”
Tesla: Even a massive recall can’t slow down the Model 3
This year, Tesla has had difficulty getting the public to trust in their Autopilot features, and although the heat can set a mood, this summer might not help with that. At least not after U.S. publications announced last week that Tesla had voluntarily recalled 285,520 of their Shanghai-made Model 3 and Model Y cars.
The recall followed what China’s State Administration for Market Regulation identified as Tesla’s concern that cruise control could accidentally be activated in these cars, making drivers unsafe by placing them in an unexpected situation. Luckily, the recall should be an easy fix. All owners of recalled vehicles will have to do is upgrade their software for free, either remotely or at a Tesla China location.
Although the recall is relatively tame news, anyone with a seed of concern about Tesla’s Autopilot safety might find it disconcerting, especially since Musk himself admitted that full self-driving is trickier to obtain than anticipated. This is especially an issue for potential Tesla buyers in China who have already been inundated with misinformation on Tesla’s safety by social media.
Still, there are no hard feelings between Elon Musk and China at large, at least not on Musk’s side. He tweeted on June 30 that “the economic prosperity that China has achieved is truly amazing, especially in infrastructure.” Hopefully, Tesla won’t be left out of it.
SpaceX: SpaceX is losing money on Starlink, but not for long
On June 29, Musk led an in-depth discussion on Starlink at the Mobile World Conference, claiming that users can expect “global connectivity everywhere except the Poles” beginning in August, emphasizing that the service is operational and intended for rural users. Although Musk repeated that Starlink’s goal is “not to go bankrupt,” he anticipates investing as much as $10 billion before reaching “positive cash flow.”
It’s possible that could happen by 2022, as Musk said Starlink expects to expand its 10,000 users to about 500,000 in the next 12 months.
In other positive SpaceX news, Musk is hoping to, at the very least, complete stacking Starship’s orbital ship to its Super Heavy booster some time this month for what will be Starship’s first-ever orbital flight. In less positive SpaceX news, Musk has been vocalizing his displeasure towards various rocket-related societal ills, including what he identifies as the monopoly launch service United Launch Alliance has over U.S. government launches.
“I guess I should take my own advice and just work on saving the things I love,” Musk tweeted on July 1 after sending a series of disgruntled messages to ULA CEO Tory Bruno. Since then, he certainly has been.
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9. A driver in California was ticketed for strapping what might be a Starlink satellite to the hood of their car. You’re actually not supposed to do that.
8. Social networking site Public has placed a life-size Musk statue at the foot of the High Line stairs in New York, which New Yorkers... well, I wouldn’t say “love.” Regardless, Statue Musk will be grinning there indefinitely while potential permanent owners duke it out on eBay. Are you into that kind of thing?
7. In a kind of equal-but-opposite vibe, the customer service robot Pepper, which was able to talk — assisting humans in various scenarios and maintaining a constant friendly demeanor — has been dead (discontinued) for a year. Goodbye, Pepper.
5. But don’t get too excited. Last week, a Model S Plaid burst into flames, at one point trapping its driver behind the wheel. More details are still to come, but the driver’s lawyer called the experience “harrowing and horrifying.” Read more.
3. China is planning on sending the world’s first crewed mission to Mars in 2033. One small step for Musk kind...
2. And on July 11, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson will be the first billionaire in space. ...Great!
1. And a piece of Musk history: On September 8, 2005, Discover Magazine ran a profile on Elon Musk beginning with the simple question: Can a rocket be cute? SpaceX, which was just 3 years old at the time, didn’t really have an answer for that, but Musk was certain of something else. “Establishing a self-sustaining second human civilization on Mars is [...] the most important goal,” he said. It always has been.
The ultra-fine print
This has been Musk Reads #254, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Ashley Bardhan, assistant to Musk Reads. I’ll be taking over the Monday newsletter for the summer.
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