For the SpaceX, this mission is a key milestone in its short history. Elon
Musk, a technology entrepreneur and engineer, set up the organization with the
specific intention of taking people into space.
Elon Musk told reporters immediately after the launch: “It’s been 17 years to get to this point, from 2002 to now. To be
frank, I’m a little emotionally exhausted because it was super stressful.
“Our focus has been on serving
NASA’s needs but once Dragon is in regular operation, I think we will seek
commercial customers of which the NASA administrator, and NASA in general, has
been very supportive.”
He said those customers could include private citizens going to the ISS,
just as they have done on Soyuz vehicles in the past.
Separately, Elon Musk is developing a much bigger system – which he calls
the Starship and Super Heavy rocket – to transport people to the Moon and Mars.
The Dragon crew capsule is a variant on the ISS cargo freighter flown by
Upgrades include life-support systems, obviously; and more powerful
thrusters to push the vessel to safety if something goes wrong with a rocket
during an ascent to orbit.
It also has four parachutes instead of the freighter’s three to control the
return to Earth.
Dragon crew capsules will splashdown in the Atlantic not far from Kennedy.
NASA is essentially now contracting out crew transport to SpaceX.
Whereas in the past, NASA engineers would have top-down control of all
aspects of vehicle design and the agency would own and operate the hardware –
the relationship with industry has been put on a completely new footing.
Today, NASA sets broad requirements and industry is given plenty of latitude
in how it meets those demands.
After being taken to orbit, the Dragon makes its own way to the station
using onboard thrusters.
One of the big differences between this mission and standard cargo flights
is the mode of approach and attachment to the ISS. Freighters come up under the
orbiting lab and are grappled by a robotic arm and pulled into a berthing
ISS astronauts will be watching closely to see that the capsule behaves as
The Dragon is expected to stay at the station until March 8. The current plan has it undocking, firing its thrusters to come out of orbit, and splashing down at roughly 13:45 GMT.
Elon Musk’s company, Tesla, expects to raise nearly $1.8 billion by selling “junk” bonds to private investors – even more than the electric automaker aimed for when it announced the offering this month.
Tesla said the money will keep its balance sheet steady as it ramps up manufacturing of its newest car.
The company aims to make 5,000 of its mass market Model 3 a week by the end of this year.
It has estimated it is already spending about $100 million a week to hit that target.
On August 4, Tesla said was looking to raise $1.5 billion by selling bonds, but after one week it said it now expected to raise $1.77 billion from the sale.
The fundraising is limited to major institutions and not private investor.
Junk bonds are ones that pay a higher yield than normal bonds (5.3% in Tesla’s case), but also carry a higher risk of not being paid back. The bonds are set to be repaid in 2025.
Analysts said Tesla‘s ability to raise more than $1.5 billion indicated an appetite for risk among investors, as low interest rates have limited returns in many other types of investments. High stock market valuations have also made it harder to make a profit.
“Without the proceeds from the note offering, Tesla’s liquidity position would be stressed,” analysts at Moody’s said, warning of risks to potential investors.
Tesla had about $3 billion in cash at the end of June, but it spent more than $2 billion in the most recent quarter.
The company has frequently turned to investors to overcome persistent operating losses.
Tesla plans to eventually make more than 500,000 of the new Model 3 cars a year at its Fremont factory – or about 10,000 per week.
Moody’s said the target was ambitious given the relatively small size of the US electric car market.
The four-door Model 3 will then be available to the public, with a base price of $35,000, almost half that of the Tesla’s next-cheapest model.
Tesla’s share price more than doubled between December and late June as investors backed Elon Musk’s strategy to transform the low-volume luxury electric car maker into a producer for the crowded mass-market, but has since fallen back.
Registrations for new Tesla cars in California, its largest market, were down 24% in April compared with April 2016, according to IHS Markit data. Tesla responded by calling the figure “cherry-picked” data.
Image source Twitter
Tesla reported that first-half 2017 global deliveries for all its models rose to 47,100. That was at the lower end of its predicted sales range of 47,000 to 50,000.
In its last full financial year results, Tesla made a loss of $889 million.
Elon Musk’s tweeted images follow news last week that Volvo would become the first traditional vehicle manufacturer to phase out the petrol and diesel powered combustion engine, in a move toward hybrid and electric car production.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced that his company will unveil an electric articulated truck in September 2017.
Additionally, the Tesla CEO said an electric pick-up truck would be shown off in around 18-24 months.
In 2016, Elon Musk expressed the company’s desire to branch out beyond cars.
However, analysts are concerned Tesla will not meet demand for its current projects.
Image source Flickr
The Model 3, a more mid-market car compared to what Tesla currently offers, has 400,000 pre-orders – vastly more than the company can manufacture in a year. The Model 3 is due to go into production later this year.
Elon Musk has launched Neuralink, a start-up which aims to develop technology that connects our brains to computers.
A report from the Wall Street Journal, later confirmed in a tweet by Elon Musk, said Neuralink was in its very early stages and registered as a “medical research” company.
Neuralink will develop so-called “neural lace” technology which would implant tiny electrodes into the brain.
The technique could be used to improve memory or give humans added artificial intelligence.
Image source Flickr
According to the Journal, leading academics in the field have been signed up to work at the company which is being funded privately by Tesla chief executive.
Specialists in the field envision a time when humans may be able to upload and download thoughts.
In a tweet on March 28, Elon Musk confirmed the existence of Neuralink and said more details about the company would be made public next week via WaitButWhy – a site known for illustrating its lengthy post with often crude but charming stick figure drawings.
As well as heading electric carmaker Tesla, Elon Musk is involved with running space exploration company Space X, a project to reinvent transport called Hyperloop and, most recently, a company investigating the feasibility of boring tunnels underneath Los Angeles – and a new project to power Australia.
Tweeting about Neuralink, Elon Musk conceded it would be “difficult to dedicate the time, but existential risk is too high not to”.
SpaceX has successfully launched the Dragon CRS-10 (2) mission carrying a cargo ship for the International Space Station (ISS) following the postponement of take-off on February 18 because of technical problems.
Witnesses said the Dragon rocket was only briefly visible before making its way into the clouds.
The launch was made from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The rocket booster successfully landed on the ground nine minutes after taking off.
Image source Flickr
The touchdown is part of SpaceX’s strategy of returning rockets to earth so they can be reused rather than jettisoning them in the ocean after a single launch.
Moments after the rocket landed, the SpaceX Dragon supply ship successfully reached orbit, prompting cheers inside the SpaceX Mission Control room.
The Dragon is now making its way to the ISS, and is expected to arrive on February 22.
On January 14, SpaceX resumed flights by launching a Falcon 9 vehicle from the Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California coast.
It was the first mission by the private rocket company since one of its vehicles exploded on the launch pad in September.
The company founder, Elon Musk, wants SpaceX to be at the forefront of the race involving several companies to deploy satellite-based internet services over the next few years.
SpaceX also has a long queue of customers all waiting for a ride to orbit – including America’s civil space agency (NASA), the US military and multiple outfits in the commercial sector.
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has announced the electric car maker is launching a new battery pack for the performance versions of its Model S and X cars that will extend the range and mean faster acceleration.
Elon Musk hailed the upgraded charger as a “profound milestone”.
The battery cell chemistry is the same, but the reconfigured product stored more energy in the same space, he said.
Tesla, which this month posted a steeper-than-expected loss, is adding a new sedan car to its sports line-up.
Elon Musk claimed that the new 100-kilowatt hour battery pack means high-end versions of the Model S sedan, called the P100D, will be the world’s fastest accelerating car in production.
The P100D will do 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds. Elon Musk said there were faster cars on the market, but these were limited-run vehicles, while the Tesla is aimed at the mass market, he said.
“These are very profound milestones and I think will help convince people around the world that electric is the future,” Elon Musk said on a conference call with journalists.
The new battery extends the range of performance versions of the new Model S well beyond 300 miles, from about 290 miles, Tesla said.
Elon Musk said that in cool weather, a driver could travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles – a nearly 400 mile drive – without recharging.
In May 2016, Tesla said it was stepping up production plans for its upcoming Model 3 mass-market sedan and would build a total of 500,000 all-electric vehicles in 2018, two years ahead of schedule.
The Model S and X vehicles with the upgraded batteries will help fund the more affordable Model 3 still in development, Elon Musk said. The performance versions of the S and X without the new battery currently start at $108,000 and $115,500, respectively.
However, Tesla Motors also warned that investment would ramp up as well.
The company has been under investigation from US safety regulators following a fatal crash in Florida earlier this year involving its drive-assistance feature known as Autopilot.
Elon Musk said a software update of the feature is nearing completion, adding that it will result in “material improvements in the autonomy of the car”.
SpaceX has successfully landed an unmanned Falcon-9 rocket upright, after sending 11 satellites into orbit.
The Falcon-9 craft touched down on December 21, about 10km from its launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
It is not the first spacecraft to land a booster vertically; that feat was claimed by the much smaller New Shepard rocket in Texas last month.
Nonetheless the Falcon-9 flight, which also went twice as high as New Shepard, is a milestone towards reusing rockets.
SpaceX aims to slash the cost of private space operations with such reusable components – but the company has not launched a rocket since one exploded in June.
On that occasion an unmanned Falcon-9 broke apart in flames minutes after lifting off from Cape Canaveral, with debris tumbling out of the sky into the Atlantic Ocean.
The rocket, which had 18 straight successes prior to the fateful flight, was in the process of sending a cargo ship to the International Space Station (ISS).
SpaceX has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to send supplies to the ISS.
On Monday night, local time, the upgraded 23-storey-tall rocket took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station with the main stage returning about 10 minutes later to a landing site about 6 miles south of the launch pad.
Near the peak of its flight, at an altitude of some 125 miles, it propelled the rocket’s first stage – laden with 11 communications satellites – into space.
The flawless launch on December 21 is a major success for privately-owned Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, the California-based company set up and run by high-tech entrepreneur Elon Musk.
Elon Musk has said the ability to return its rockets to Earth so they can be reused and re-flown would hugely reduce his company’s operational costs in the growing but highly competitive private space launch industry.
SpaceX employees broke out in celebration as they watched a live stream of the 156ft-tall white booster slowly descend to earth in the form of a glowing orange ball.
“Welcome back, baby!” Elon Musk said in a celebratory tweet.
SpaceX commentators described the launch and return – the first time an orbital rocket successfully achieved a controlled landing on Earth – as “incredibly exciting”.
“This was a first for us at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and I can’t even begin to describe the joy the team feels right now having been a part of this historic first-stage rocket landing,” the top officer at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Brig Gen Wayne Monteith, said in a statement.
SpaceX is aiming to revolutionize the rocket industry, which up until now has lost millions of dollars in discarded machinery and valuable rocket parts after each launch.
Several earlier attempts to land the Falcon 9’s first stage on an ocean platform have failed.
“It would have less lateral acceleration – which is what tends to make people feel motion sick – than a subway ride, as the pod banks against the tube like an airplane,” he said.
“It would feel supersmooth.”
“The Hyperloop (or something similar) is, in my opinion, the right solution for the specific case of high traffic city pairs that are less than about 1500 km or 900 miles apart,” Elon Musk claimed.
Elon Musk boasted on Twitter he has been working on the plan all night after promising to release the details today, creating massive speculation online over its technology.
“Pulled all nighter working on Hyperloop (as did others),” he tweeted.
“Hopefully not too many mistakes.”
Elon Musk said he started thinking about the idea when plans for a 130 mph (210 km/h) high-speed train connection between LA and San Francisco were revealed, but now he has detailed his own version on Tesla’s site.
“I originally started thinking about [Hyperloop] when I read about California’s high-speed rail project which was somewhat disappointing,” he told a Google Hangout with Richard Branson last week.
“It’s actually worse than taking the plane. I get a little sad when things are not getting better in the future.
“Another example would be like the Concorde being retired and the fact there is no supersonic passenger transport. I think that is sad. You want the future to be better than the past, or at least I do.”
Elon Musk made his fortune with the internet payment system PayPal before switching his skills into developing the new Falcon rocket system for NASA and the Tesla electric car.
Elon Musk unveils plans for the Hyperloop that will shoot passengers from LA to San Francisco in 30 minutes
HE claims Hyperloop would be a practical solution for city pairs separated by 1,000 miles (1,600 km) or less. Beyond this distance, it would be better to take a plane, he explained.
But for the shorter distance, Elon Musk’s new concept would beat the plane, he argues, because it would not waste time ascending and descending.
“You want a transport system that is roughly twice as fast as the next best alternative, that costs less, that is safer, that is not subject to weather and is more convenient,” Elon Musk said.
“If there were such a thing, I think most people would take it. In fact, it would increase the travel between the city pairs because of the increased convenience.”
Experts say Elon Musk’s track record could help the plan become a reality.
“Hyperloop is quite an old science fiction idea but Elon Musk is the sort of man who could make it work,” said physicist Martin Archer from Imperial College London.
“He’s the guy who made electric cars go fast with Tesla, which many people didn’t think would be possible; and he’s the head of SpaceX which is the only commercial rocket builder that has managed to hook up with the International Space Station.”
Elon Musk says he will leave it to others to build the system initially.
“I have to focus on core Tesla business and SpaceX business, and that’s more than enough,” he told investors of Tesla, his electric car firm.
“If nothing happens for a few years, with that I mean maybe it could make sense to make the halfway path with Tesla involvement,” Elon Musk said.
“Hyperloop consists of a low pressure tube with capsules that are transported at both low and high speeds throughout the length of the tube,” Elon Musk said in an exhaustive paper detailing the system posted online.
“The capsules are supported on a cushion of air.”
Each of the capsules is pressurized, and Elon Musk says they have an emergency braking system as well as a reserve air supply in the event of an emergency.
The entrepreneur admits the scheme came from a disdain for current systems.
“When the California <<high speed>> rail was approved, I was quite disappointed, as I know many others were too.
“How could it be that the home of Silicon Valley and JPL – doing incredible things like indexing all the world’s knowledge and putting rovers on Mars – would build a bullet train that is both one of the most expensive per mile and one of the slowest in the world?”
Elon Musk claims the scheme can power itself through solar energy.
“By placing solar panels on top of the tube, the Hyperloop can generate far in excess of the energy needed to operate.
“This takes into account storing enough energy in battery packs to operate at night and for periods of extended cloudy weather,” he claims.
Elon Musk estimates the overall cost of the tube, pillars, vacuum pumps and stations will be $4.06 billion for the passenger version of Hyperloop, and $5.31 billion for the larger version capable of sending cargo and even cars.
Elon Musk says a route from LA to San Francisco could be running within seven years.
“It could happen at least 4-5 years after a working prototype is developed, so 7-10 years away,” he told reporters.
“That’s comparable timing to the rail project.”
Elon Musk also said he may develop a prototype system himself, despite previously claiming he would leave it to others.
“I’ve sort of come around a little bit on my thinking here,” he said.