📸 See Elon Musk’s incredible Starship photo

Musk Reads #236

Volkswagen takes on Tesla and Virgin Hyperloop’s pod is going on a trip. Who is the world’s richest person? It’s the free edition of Musk Reads #236 — subscribe now to receive two more editions later this week!

Last week, Musk Reads+ subscribers heard from Ben Allen, a California state senator, about his plan to prepare for the future of autonomous cars. 

This week, subscribers will hear from Eric Berger, author of Liftoff: Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX, on what the Falcon 1 launches reveal about SpaceX’s ethos. Subscribers will also hear from Josh Giegel, co-founder and CEO of Virgin Hyperloop, about his plans for future designs.

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Musk quote of the week

“Ahem …”


SpaceX

Elon Musk’s red Tesla Roadster has completed two orbits around the Sun. The car launched on the maiden voyage of the Falcon Heavy in February 2018 with a dummy dubbed “Starman” in the driver’s seat, David Bowie playing on the sound system, and a reference to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on the dashboard. The car has traveled an estimated 1.5 billion miles at a speed of over 75,000 mph. Read more.

The Inspiration4 mission, the world’s first all-civilian spaceflight, has its second passenger. Hayley Arceneaux, a 29-year-old physician assistant at St. Jude's Children Research Hospital and a bone cancer survivor, was announced last week. The final two seats are reserved for two competition winners. Read more.

The Starship SN10 prototype completed a static test firing last week ahead of an expected high-altitude test. On Twitter, Musk shared an impressive picture of a stainless steel Starship prototype pointed up at the Moon. The photo hints at SpaceX’s future plans for the ship after NASA chose SpaceX and two other companies in April 2020 to develop a lunar lander.


Tesla

Tesla is moving more of its car batteries to lithium iron phosphate cells over fears around long-term nickel supplies, Electrek reported last week. On Twitter, Musk described nickel as “our biggest concern for scaling lithium-ion cell production.” Musk has regularly noted battery production as one of the firm’s biggest constraints in terms of growth.

Volkswagen’s latest ID.4 electric car is five years behind Tesla, the Wall Street Journal wrote last week, citing its touch screen that’s “a bit shambolic” and a smartphone app that failed multiple times. The $45,190 car features a range of 250 miles, 0 to 60 mph acceleration times of 7.5 seconds, and an 82-kilowatt-hour battery. The price, which starts at $41,190 including delivery, also came under fire. 

The Wall Street Journal review did, however, praise the car for making “gas-burning competitors feel like puttering, muttering nincompoops.” In a more positive review, The Verge noted that the car lacks the “devil-may-care attitude of a Tesla” but “for me, it felt right.”


In other Musk news...

Inverse can reveal Virgin Hyperloop’s XP-2 pod is going to the Smithsonian. The pod was used to host the first public passenger ride in November 2020. XP-2 will now feature at the Arts and Industries Building as part of the Smithsonian’s Futures exhibition, set to open in November 2021. In an interview with Inverse, Virgin Hyperloop co-founder and CEO Josh Giegel outlined his advice for kids who may be inspired by seeing the XP-2 pod. Read more.

Elon Musk is no longer the world’s richest person. Musk lost the top spot to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Tuesday after shares in Tesla fell. At the time of writing, Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index shows Bezos is number one with a total net worth of $181 billion, while Musk is at number two with $174 billion.


The ultra-fine print

This has been Musk Reads #236, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Mike Brown, an innovation journalist for Inverse.

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