🌟 SpaceX resupplies the ISS while NASA reaches toward Mars

Musk Reads #262

SpaceX flies again; Tesla improves A.I.; Elon Musk gets a spirited defense. It’s the free edition of Musk Reads #262subscribe now to receive two more emails later this week! 

Last week, Musk Reads+ subscribers learned more about the Cargo Dragon ship bringing the Inspiration4 crew on their historic journey. This week, subscribers will hear more about the Netflix show documenting it.

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Musk quote of the week

“Success is not guaranteed, but excitement is!” — Elon Musk tweeted today, August 30, while describing SpaceX’s Mechazilla as “robot chopsticks” that will catch the “largest-ever flying object.” Well, when you put it that way… 


SpaceX: Avocados in space and more

Oh, if it weren’t for you meddling Bezos! Bezos no longer helms Amazon, but its subsidiary and proposed satellite plan, Project Kuiper, continues its founder’s legacy of messing with SpaceX. This time, it comes in the form of a protest letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), urging the commission to decline SpaceX’s proposal for two different satellite configurations and instead push the company to only submit one. 

Bezos notwithstanding, SpaceX is thriving. On August 29, SpaceX launched its first rocket since June, delivering astronaut snacks like ice cream and lemons to the International Space Station (ISS). The Cargo Dragon resupply launch also contained a few experiments, some of which were courtesy of the Los Angeles Girl Scouts. The payload is set to reach the ISS today. 

On the SpaceX friends and lovers front, NASA has planned two more Mars missions for 2024. “Known as the Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers (ESCAPADE), the mission will consist of twin satellites, known as ‘Blue’ and ‘Gold’ after UC Berkeley’s colors,” a Universe Today article notes. 

The primary goal of the mission will be to check on Mars’ weather, “watching for its atmosphere and how the planet is affected by the solar wind,” Universe Today said. 


Tesla: Autopilot could be better

Things have been relatively slow for Tesla after the energetic A.I. Day, so Musk took to Twitter to engage in some good old-fashioned Autopilot discussion. 

Here’s a breakdown of every detail Musk let slip:

  • Musk wants to tie Autopilot driving style in with warning settings

  • Tesla might add its “Bioweapon Defense Mode” into the Tesla app

  • Active braking is better than torque reduction

  • Tesla is “aiming for” Autopilot that is “1000% safer than the average human driver”

  • FSD Beta 9.2 is “not great,” but FSD Beta 10 “will be next-level” (and available to download September 3)

As Musk and the rest of his Tesla crew work on improving Autopilot and Full-Self Driving software, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) continues its investigation into Tesla crashes involving a first responder scene. The government agency will have to add one more crash to their existing list of 11 — on August 28, a Model 3 crashed into a Florida Highway Patrol vehicle, and the car Highway Patrol stopped to assist. A crash of convenience, at least. 


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In other Musk-related news…

T-minus the internet

A ranked list of everything Musk-related and online, handpicked weekly with bionic precision.  

10. Blue Origin is selling a model version of its dick-like rocket for $69. It looks more like the Hitachi Magic Wand, IMO. Why is no one talking about this?

9. Speaking of dicks, Douglas Copeland used the word five times in his vigorous defense of Elon Musk for The Guardian. We get it, we get it!

8. The opposite of that Guardian essay, in every way — trans artist Cassils’ performance art $HT COIN. Donning the pseudonym “White Male Artist,” Cassils modeled their diet after famous white male artists like Andy Warhol and Banksy, preserved their poop in a can labeled after each artist, and sold the cans as NFTs. They recently broke anonymity to discuss the project and the legacy of white men. What’s your shit worth?

7. The Maine Mineral & Gem Museum will display a 32-pound rock shot from Mars onto Earth after an asteroid shattered its surface. That’s kind of like space poop if you think about it. Read more. 

6. The ongoing pandemic has caused an oxygen shortage; Musk says this hasn’t hurt oxygen-dependent rocket launches ... yet.

5. Cybertruck — meet your $500, wood-made look-alike, the Plybertruck. Read more.

4. Tesla isn’t the only company with self-driving woes. Toyota has ceased operation of its self-driving pods after one crashed in the Tokyo Paralympic Games village. Read more.

3. Maybe a Tesla Bot could help them out? Read more.

2. Depends on who’s providing the brains. Neuralink co-founder and former president Max Hodak has quietly formed a rival company. Sometimes, a monkey playing Pong just isn’t enough.

1. And a piece of Musk history:  In one of the most 2009 things ever, Elon Musk interviewed with the now inoperational YouTube channel The Valley Girl Show, an ongoing series where venture capitalist and former actress Jesse Draper interviews Silicon Valley heavy-hitters in an Elle Woods-ian fashion. Musk seems unprepared for how much pink is involved, but, like, he totally tries. “Mars is red,” he says.


The ultra-fine print

This has been Musk Reads #261, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Ashley Bardhan, assistant to Musk Reads.

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