Tesla bounces back with deliveries, SpaceX tweaks Starship, and Apple CEO Tim Cook reveals what he thinks of Musk. It’s the free edition of Musk Reads #241 — subscribe now to receive two more editions later this week!
Last week, Musk Reads+ subscribers heard from Nicholas Underwood, a cybersecurity expert who’s been lucky enough to try out the SpaceX Starlink beta before it reaches the wider public. This week, subscribers will receive a special edition retrospective to mark the anniversary of perhaps the biggest moment in SpaceX history.
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Musk quote of the week
“This is getting fixed 6 ways to Sunday.”
Read more about SpaceX’s ship repairs.
Tesla released its first quarter 2021 production and delivery figures on April 2. Wedbush analyst Dan Ives, in a note seen by MarketWatch, described the results as a “drop the mic” moment and that the firm had “yet again defied the skeptics and bears.”
The firm produced 180,338 vehicles in the quarter, all of which were the cheaper Model 3 and Model Y vehicles. It also delivered 184,800 cars, 182,780 of which were the compact Model 3 and Y and 2,020 of which were the luxury Model S and X cars, the latter of which is the SUV variant of the S. The figures beat analyst expectations of around 168,000 deliveries.
It’s nearly double the amount of cars Tesla delivered in the same period last year, when it delivered just 88,400 in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. Tesla cited the “strong reception” of the Model Y in China this year as cause for celebration.
Why the low Model S and X figures? Tesla announced a major refresh in January 2021, complete with much-anticipated improved interiors. The new equipment was installed over the quarter, and the firm is now preparing to ramp up production.
The day before it released the results, the official Tesla Twitter account shared four images of Model 3 deliveries in Europe. The compact sedan ranks as the firm’s cheapest car.
Why did SpaceX’s Starship explode again? The firm is developing a ship to send the first humans to Mars and beyond, but all four of its high-altitude prototype flights have resulted in flames. The SN11 prototype exploded during a March 30 test.
So what happened? Musk explained on Twitter that it “looks like engine 2 had issues on ascent & didn’t reach operating chamber pressure during landing burn, but, in theory, it wasn’t needed.” He later wrote that “ascent phase, transition to horizontal & control during free fall were good,” but “a (relatively) small CH4 leak led to fire on engine 2 & fried part of avionics, causing hard start attempting landing burn in CH4 turbopump.”
“This is getting fixed 6 ways to Sunday,” Musk added. Read more.
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In other Musk news…
SpaceX is planning a Crew Dragon variant with a large window on top, according to new concept art. Read more.
Check out these six Tesla Cybertruck alternatives on the way. Read more.
Peter Rawlinson, CEO of electric car firm Lucid Motors, told The Guardian that his company has been approached by a number of automakers about licensing deals.
Tim Cook, Apple CEO, told the New York Times that he has “great admiration” for Musk and Tesla while noting that he has never spoken to Musk himself. Musk revealed on Twitter in December 2020 that Cook refused to meet with him in 2018, when Musk wanted to discuss the idea of Apple buying Tesla.
Cook also hinted at Apple’s plans for autonomy. When asked if that meant an autonomous car, Cook declined to comment.
Welcome to our subscriber spotlight, where we’re giving a shout-out to the fantastic Musk Reads+ subscribers around the world that help support our mission.
This week, Steve Vetter writes to us from Eagan, Minnesota. He was just 12 years old when Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon and has a long history of contributing to the space community. He was president of the L5 Society at University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (see Musk Reads #209) and a senior technical advisor to the Space Studies Institute.
Both groups are based around the work of physicist Gerard K. O’Neill, who advocated for human settlements in space. Vetter has also written two novels based around these themes: Of Several Worlds and Of Colliding Worlds.
“I’m not directly involved as much as I used to be, but I’m still an enthusiastic supporter of commercial space development,” Vetter says. “Go SpaceX!”
Vetter’s image of choice is one from a National Instruments presentation on how SpaceX uses its LabVIEW software for its launches. While we could not locate the presentation itself, we did find this image shared by National Instruments of LabVIEW in action at mission control. Thanks for sharing, Steve!
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The ultra-fine print
This has been Musk Reads #241, 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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