Posts tagged with "SpaceX"

(April Fools!) Elon Musk is not joining Twitter’s board, after all

April 12, 2022

Twitter’s top brass thought one of the platform’s top trolls had decided to join their ranks, but in the end he was just trolling them, too, reports The Daily Beast.

Late Sunday the social media company’s CEO, Parag Agrawaltweeted that Elon Musk would not join Twitter’s board—reversing a much-publicized plan announced April 5. Musk had revealed around the same time that he had bought up a 9.2% stake in the business, becoming its largest shareholder in the process.

“Elon’s appointment to the board was to become officially effective 4/9, but Elon shared that same morning that he will no longer be joining the board. I believe this is for the best,” Agrawal wrote. Seemingly alluding to Musk’s provocations and the accompanying media fervor, Agrawal added, “There will be distractions ahead, but our goals and priorities remain unchanged.”

Musk, for his part, simply tweeted a version of the following emoji: 🤭.

Agrawal’s comments marked a dramatic change in tone from his tweets on April 5, when he said that Musk was “both a passionate believer and intense critic of the service, which is exactly what we need on @Twitter, and in the boardroom.”

Days later, Musk spent part of the weekend polling his followers about ways to change Twitter, in forms both serious and farcical.

“Delete the w in twitter?” he asked on Sunday. The poll’s two possible answers: “Yes” and “Of course.”

Separately, Musk mulled whether Twitter’s headquarters should be converted into a homeless shelter and offered policy suggestions for the company’s paid membership service, Twitter Blue, including a new type of verification badge.

Musk was perhaps dissuaded from joining the board because of a stipulation that would have banned him from acquiring more than a 14.9% ownership stake in the business. To some spectators, including Musk’s legion of followers on Twitter, the provision suggested that the company’s leadership team merely wanted to restrict how much influence he could amass.

Musk had polled his followers in March about whether Twitter was adhering to principles of free speech (more than 70% said no). When news of his investment subsequently became public, it seemed that he had bought stock in response to their feedback.

In fact, filings show, he started buying shares at least as far back as January.

Over the years, Musk has used the platform to announce official news from his main companies, Tesla and SpaceX; to sound off on critics; and to troll the internet. That has landed him in hot water a number of times.

Most infamously, in 2018 he declared that he was considering taking the electric automaker private at a price of $420 per share—sending the company’s stock on a wild ride.

The Securities and Exchange Commission was not amused, particularly after it determined that Musk had not truly had the “funding secured,” as he suggested. He eventually settled with the agency, paid a $20 million fine, and stepped down as Tesla’s chairman.

But his Twitter fingers haven’t slowed down since.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

‘Catellite’ dishes: Elon Musk’s Starlink Internet dishes are attracting cats

January 4, 2022

Looks like SpaceX’s StarlinkElon Musk’s bid to establish his space company as a heavyweight Internet service provider using constellations of satellites—is attracting four-legged fans on planet Earth, reports Futurism.

Indeed, the platform’s receiver dishes are attracting local cats on cold days. In a recent Starlink customer’s tweet, we counted at least five cats cuddled up on one of the dishes—apparently to stay warm and take advantage of the heat it produces.

“Starlink works great until the cats find out that the dish gives off a little heat on cold days,” Twitter user Aaron Taylor tweeted on New Year’s Eve.

Starlink is SpaceX’s internet service that uses orbital satellites, some of which recently kicked off an international incident after the Chinese space station had to swerve out of their way — but there may be no avoiding the cute, terrestrial feline infestation as long as the dishes aren’t in use.

One Reddit user said that, in the working position, Starlink dishes aren’t flat, or parallel to the ground, so they shouldn’t make good cat beds. However, when it’s not running, the angle allows small animals to fit snugly on top.

It’s possible the dishes also attract other small critters at its various angles, and one Reddit user even went so far as to use thermal imaging to determine why animals may congregate around their dish.

“I was checking my dish with a thermal sight and it actually looks like the whole dish, even the back side is warm,” he reported. “So you might [see] animals under or around it in general if it’s ground mounted.”

Other users expressed concerns that birds perched on the rim of the dish might drop messes, potentially presenting performance issues. It’s unclear if the intruders cause service interruptions, in part because the non-working position is apparently what allows them to, ahem, fit and sit.

In the past, however, publications, including The Verge, have poorly reviewed the Internet provider, so even if reports of animals sitting on dishes abound, it would take thorough investigation to figure out whether they’re the actual cause of any problem.

Research contact: @futurism

Want to be a space cowboy? Training camps are popping up all over

December 21, 2021

Space tourism is about to blast off. This year, Blue Origin, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic all sent everyday citizens into the stratosphere; and the Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and his assistant became the ninth and tenth civilians to visit the International Space Station on Wednesday, December 8.

In 2022, the frequency of launches and the options for leaving Earth’s atmosphere will only increase, according to the Robb Report.

For citizen astronauts who want to boldly go where William Shatner has now finally gone—or anyone who’s even thinking about going—the journey starts with space training, which is increasingly accessible through a number of companies and at varying levels of intensity and expense.

“For someone who’s considering space travel, it’s the best way to get a taste of the experience,” says Tom Shelley, the president of Space Adventures in Vienna, Virginia. “Some people do it and feel they’ve gotten close enough, while others commit to a full program.”

Stellar Frontiers, a London-based training provider, recently set up a trip for a family of four to witness a rocket blast-off from close range. “There’s a lot of demand,” says CEO Geordie Mackay-Lewis, “but people want to understand it first. They think it’s uncomfortable and complex, so they want to get a sense of the experience.”

The simplest options range from launch viewings to a one-day visit to the Gargarin Cosmonaut Center in Star City, Russia, that includes a tour of the facility at the center of the Russian space program and a chance to try on an actual space suit.

Two- or three-day packages mix in multiple simulators, space-food taste testing, emergency drills, zero-gravity training, centrifugal G-force testing and spacewalk simulations. Finally, one- to three-month full-immersion programs match what ISS visitors experience and are available even to those who never want to leave Earth.

“We have some set packages, but we also put together custom programs,” says Shelley, whose company trained Maezawa. “Anything is possible depending on someone’s time commitment and budget.”

The multi-day packages can range from $20,000 to $100,000, but they include comforts that viewers of The Right Stuff could never imagine. Visits to Star City, which any of the companies can arrange, include five-star hotel accommodations and bespoke services.

“We’re adding a level of luxury and accommodation that are worthy of the experience,” says Nicolas Gaume, a long-time hospitality executive and co-founder of Orbite, a French company that plans to build the luxe Space Gateway Complex designed by Philippe Stark at an undisclosed location in the United States.

For now, Orbite holds sessions in the south of France and Orlando, Florida, that include zero-G and G-force testing and intense virtual reality simulations of the hanger, the various spacecraft available and the trip itself. “It gives you a chance to see the vehicles to scale and feel what the trip will be like,” says Gaume. “It’s real enough that we’ve had a few participants break down in tears from the beauty of the experience.”

The emotional and mental preparation for space is a surprising but potent aspect of training. “We’ve dispelled this myth that you have to be some sort of super fit, crazy adventurer to go to space,” says Shelley. “But many people who have gone have a deeply spiritual experience. Seeing the planet from above allows them to see how small and fragile it is. They come back changed.”

Indeed, Captain James T. Kirk was so moved he cried upon his return to Earth after just ten minutes on the edge of the final frontier.

Research contact: @RobbReport

Jeff Bezos and brother to be on Blue Origin’s first human space flight

June 8, 2021

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said in an Instagram post on Monday, June 7, that he will be one of the inaugural travelers on Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital spacecraft, during a flight scheduled for launch from West Texas on July 20, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Bezos said that his brother, Mark Bezos, also will be among the crew members in the pressurized capsule, which has room for six astronauts.

Named after NASA’s Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American to go to space, New Shepard is a reusable suborbital rocket system designed to take astronauts and research payloads past the Kármán line—the internationally recognized boundary of space.

The vehicle is fully autonomous. Every person onboard is a passenger—there is no “pilot” for the 11-minute flight, which will return to Earth via parachute.

“I want to go on this flight because it’s a thing I’ve wanted to do all my life,” Bezos said in a video posted to Instagram. “It’s an adventure. It’s a big deal for me.”

Bezos, who has said that he will step down as Amazon’s chief executive on July 5 after leading the company for more than two decades, has invested heavily in Blue Origin, contributing as much as roughly $1 billion in some years. He will continue to hold the title executive chairman after his lieutenant Andy Jassy becomes CEO.

Blue Origin has said it aims to support widespread commercial activity in space in the future. In addition to its space-tourism efforts, Blue Origin is also working on rockets that could launch payloads for NASA.

The passenger list for Blue Origin’s July flight also is set to include the winner of a charity auction that will conclude this month. The auction boasted nearly 6,000 participants and the highest bid is at $2.8 million, Blue Origin said Monday.

According to the Journal, Blue Origin’s efforts to commercialize spaceflight parallel those of SpaceX—the spaceflight company led by Tesla  CEO Elon Musk.

SpaceX last year became the first company to launch NASA astronauts into space.

Both companies competed to design a new capsule that could land astronauts on the moon before NASA awarded the contract to SpaceX in April. Blue Origin has filed a petition challenging the contract award.

Billionaire Richard Branson also has invested in commercial spaceflight. Virgin Galactic Holdings, a company he founded that also plans to offer space tourism, went public in a 2019 merger with a blank-check company.

Research contact: @WSJ

Billionaire Tim Draper invests in a startup that has totally transformed aircraft spacing and seating

July 15, 2020

Zephyr Aerospace, a startup that hopes to totally transform the way in which economy class passengers experience air travel, announced on July 14 that it had  raised an undisclosed amount of funding from billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper, who has previously backed Tesla, SpaceX, Coinbase and Twitter.

The investment will enable Zephyr Seat—a new airline seat and bed that offers a lie-flat accommodation and can be retrofitted to exiting commercial aircraft—to pass rigorous certification by the Federal Aviation Association and to continue direct engagements with prospective airlines and aircraft manufacturers. The “outside the box” design also meets social distancing requirements during the age of the pandemic—and features a double-decker design of single seats throughout the economy section.

“I’m sold on the design, I think it’s a great idea that is going for the right thing. Zephyr Seat is making all of our lives much better,” said Tim Draper. “If you are paying for Economy Class and can lie down, that’s huge.”

With most of the world in quarantine and eager to travel again, Zephyr Aerospace is committed to improving the travel experience for every traveler by making personal space and inflight sleep more safe and affordable.

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have had a significant impact on the travel industry and major airlines are faced with a decision to reinvent themselves and find better ways to serve the needs of their customers.

To support Zephyr’s mission to improve air travel and gain a financial stake in their success, visit their equity crowdfunding campaign on Republic (https://republic.co/zephyr-aerospace). This is the first time Zephyr Aerospace has accepted funding from outside investors and they are allowing people to invest as little as $100 in exchange for equity.

Research contact: @zephyrseat

Fashionistas mock SpaceX’s ‘half-finished Power Ranger’ space suit

June 2, 2020

On Saturday afternoon, May 30, in a first for U.S. private industry, SpaceX, launched a pair of NASA astronauts into the thermosphere—about 200 to 240 miles above the Earth’s surface.

The Elon Musk-led space company put on a big show. Clad in futuristic space suits courtesy of SpaceX, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley got the red carpet treatment as they made their way to a NASA logo-adorned Tesla Model X that drove them to the historic launch complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

However, Futurism reports, while the technology was flawless—and the flight docked without a hitch with the International Space Station on Sunday— the astronauts weren’t properly dressed for the occasion, according to fashion mavens.

“A boxy white top with minor detailing, paired with boxy white pants with minor detailing?” GQ Contributing Writer Tyler Watamanuk wrote in a recent article for the men’s lifestyle magazine—condemning SpaceX’s design choices.

This is the International Space Station, not Everlane!” Watamanuk added, pointing out that “in some ways, the design feels deliberately trend-adverse, paying no mind to contemporary style or even the larger world of design.”

“It looks like car upholstery,” Gizmodo staff reporter Whitney Kimball wrote in a post that Futurism picked up. “It looks like Tron. It looks like a half-finished Power Ranger. It looks like a Tesla-sponsored NASCAR tracksuit.”

Other fashionistas were kinder to the design.

“Actually, what the SpaceX suits evoke most of all is James Bond’s tuxedo if it were redesigned by Tony Stark as an upgrade for [‘Star Trek’ captain] James T. Kirk’s next big adventure,” Vanessa Friedman, chief fashion critic for The New York Times, wrote in a Thursday commentary piece.

“They do not have the dangling hoses, knobs, and wires of the traditional suits,” she added.

According to Futurism, the suit’s designer is Jose Fernandez, a Hollywood costume veteran who worked on movies including “The Avengers” and “Batman v Superman.” The flashy design was reverse-engineered to meet space travel requirements—not the other way around.

But speaking of dangling hoses and knobs, NASA’s own take for its upcoming Artemis missions to the Moon looks strikingly different. The agency’s Orion Crew Survival System suit features a traffic pylon-orange design with NASA-blue trim.

The boots look like a pair of futuristic Adidas. The helmet evokes the Apollo missions. And the gloves could basically be worn snowboarding, from a purely aesthetic point of view, Futurism notes. It’s liquid cooled, custom-fitted to each astronaut, and features a survival kit including a life preserver, rescue knife, flashlight, whistle, and light sticks.

In short, the Orion design is  a freakin’ space suit that’s ready for anything. Function takes precedence over form; it was designed to look like a space suit—not a tuxedo.

Research contact: @futurism

Pedal to the metal: Elon Musk dares California to arrest him as Tesla plant reopens

May 13, 2020

He has challenged the laws of mobility and gravity with his companies, Tesla and SpaceX, so why should Elon Musk bend to the laws of Alameda County, California?

This week, Musk has escalated his war with Alameda officials—tweeting that he is reopening Tesla’s manufacturing plant there despite a local ban by authorities who believe it’s not safe to do so.

If county officials don’t like it, Musk said, they can arrest him, according to a report by Fast Company. Indeed, he tweeted on May 11, “Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”

Indeed, he says, county officials are illegally flaunting California law. Also on Twitter, Musk noted, “Yes, California approved, but an unelected county official illegally overrode. Also, all other auto companies in US are approved to resume. Only Tesla has been singled out. This is super messed up!”

The tweet and decision to reopen Tesla’s only U.S. plant come after a dramatic weekend, during which Musk threatened to move the company’s headquarters from California to Nevada or Texas, Bloomberg reports.

The threat came after California Governor Gavin Newsom gave the okay last week for manufacturers in the state to start operations again, but Alameda County officials overruled that decision. It should be noted, however, that Governor Newsom granted local authorities the power to remain more restrictive with their stay-at-home orders than the state’s as a whole, essentially allowing them to decide when certain types of businesses can reopen in their areas.

That did not sit well with Musk, and Tesla then sued Alameda County over the weekend.. In response, Alameda County health officials issued a statement saying they were aware Tesla’s plant was reopening and hoped the company would choose to comply with local stay-at-home rules “without further enforcement measures.”

According to Fast Company, after Musk announced the Tesla plant would reopen, employees at the plant were emailed a memo announcing their furlough ended on Sunday and that they will be contacted within 24 hours with their return-to-work start date. Tesla said those who aren’t comfortable returning to work can stay at home—but they will be on unpaid leave and lose any jobless benefits.

The news outlet says that, since lockdown orders began, Musk has been the most vocal billionaire demanding people get back to work—going so far as to channel Trump in random outbursts on Twitter ranting against stay-at-home orders.

Research contact: @FastCompany

From fantastical to familiar: Elon Musk portends new products—and Metaculus takes heed

January 15, 2019

Elon Musk is visionary and a pioneer. He is known for making bold predictions—and then, for going on to invent, design, and produce exactly what he has portended. In doing so, since 2002, he has become either the founder or co-founder of a slew of futuristic companies, from Neuralink to SpaceX to Tesla.

Hence, when Musk anticipates or forecasts a new development, most of us sit up and take notice—and if we are even smarter, we take notes.

For example, back in April 2017, Musk said that, by 2021, his brain-computer interface company Neuralink would release a viable product for treating brain injuries. Two years before that, he predicted that the electronic vehicle manufacturer Tesla would eventually grow as big as Apple—a company that was then worth $700 billion.

Now, to help us all keep track of one of one of his biggest claims, a website called Metaculus—built by a community dedicated to generating accurate predictions about future real-world events by aggregating the collective wisdom, insight, and intelligence of its participants—has created an interactive timeline that tracks all of Musk’s predictions for the future.

According to the website Futurism, among the predictions already filed away by the Metaculus team: Musk’s hunch that we all live in a simulation; his conjecture that there’s a 70% likelihood that he’ll move to Mars; and his prophesy that SpaceX will shuttle a million colonists to Mars by 2120.

In the site’s new Musk timeline, Metaculus also includes predictions that are relevant to Musk’s companies. For instance, only 17% of Metaculus voters agree that we live in a simulation. And unfortunately for Musk, the community that thinks there’s only a 7% chance that Tesla will become the world’s largest car manufacturer by 2035.

So far, Futurism reports, the Metaculus community has been correct nine times and incorrect three times about predictions related to Musk; and the validity of another 13 predictions has yet to be determined.

The community voted that there was only a 3% chance that Musk would be sanctioned for tweeting about taking Tesla private, while his tweet actually prompted two federal investigations. The Metaculus community also incorrectly guessed that SpaceX would land a Falcon 9 rocket on a barge by March 2016 and that Tesla would not be profitable in Q3 of 2018.

However, the community was right on the nose when it found a 9% probability that Elon Musk’s boy-sized submarines would prove useful in that whole cave rescue debacle.

Overall, Musk is more optimistic about the future of technology than the Metaculus community. For instance, Musk thinks there will one million Martian colonists by 2120. Metaculus voters say there’s just a 43% chance that humans will sustain any sort of “off-world presence” by 2100.

But you have got to dream it, before you do it, right? And with his boundless imagination and worldwide following, we would bet on Musk to help us live the dream.

Research contact: @DanRobitzski

Musk considers taking Tesla private

August 9, 2018

Tesla—which has evolved from an audacious and aggressive Silicon Valley electric-car manufacturer founded in 2003 to a $63 billion colossus just eight years after going public—could be reversing course to go private.

A final decision has not yet been made, Chief Executive Elon Musk told his employees in an August 7 email posted on the company’s official website.

As a public company,” Musk wrote, “we are subject to wild swings in our stock price that can be a major distraction for everyone working at Tesla, all of whom are shareholders. Being public also subjects us to the quarterly earnings cycle that puts enormous pressure on Tesla to make decisions that may be right for a given quarter, but not necessarily right for the long-term. Finally, as the most shorted stock in the history of the stock market; being public means that there are large numbers of people who have the incentive to attack the company. “

Basically, he said, “I’m trying to accomplish an outcome where Tesla can operate at its best, free from as much distraction and short-term thinking as possible, and where there is as little change for all of our investors, including all of our employees, as possible.

Musk envisions that being private would mean four things for “all shareholders, including employees”—among them:

Musk ended the email on a positive note, with no timeline for the decision or the final move. “This proposal to go private would ultimately be finalized through a vote of our shareholders. If the process ends the way I expect it will, a private Tesla would ultimately be an enormous opportunity for all of us. Either way, the future is very bright and we’ll keep fighting to achieve our mission,” he stated.

Research contact: Press@tesla.com

Most Americans are not up for space tourism

June 8, 2018

It’s summertime and many of us want to “get away from it all”—but not so far away that we see Earth in our rear-view mirrors. While a host of companies are trying to make space tourism a consumer trend—among them, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Elon Musks’s SpaceX—most U.S. adults say they would not want to go up to (and past) the wild blue yonder, based on findings of a poll conducted by Pew Research Center and released on June 7.

About four-in-ten Americans (42%) say they would definitely or probably be interested in orbiting the Earth in a spacecraft in the future, while roughly six-in-ten (58%) say they would not give it a go.

Interest in space travel is highest among those who are young at heart and men. A majority (63%) of Millennials are on-board with the idea; however only minorities of Gen Xers (39%) and Baby Boomer (27%) would be interested. About half of men (51%) say they would be interested in orbiting the Earth in a spacecraft, compared with one-third of women (33%).

Among the 42% of Americans who said they would be interested in traveling into space, the most common reason given (by 45% of respondents) was to “experience something unique.” Smaller shares of this group said they would want to be able to view the Earth from space (29%) or “learn more about the world” (20%).

Among the 58% who said they would not want to orbit the Earth aboard a spacecraft, equal shares said the main reason was that such a trip would be either “too expensive” (28%) or “too scary” (28%) or that their age or health wouldn’t allow it (28%).

Men were more likely than women to say the main reason they would not be interested in orbiting the Earth in a spacecraft was that it would be too expensive (37% vs. 22%), but women were more inclined than men to say they would not want to go because it would be too scary (34% vs. 18%).

The respondents also talked about their expectations for space tourism in the next 50 years. The public is split over whether this will happen, with half saying that people will routinely travel in space as tourists by 2068 and half saying this will not happen. Americans are more skeptical about the possibility of colonies on other planets – an endeavor championed by space entrepreneurs Elon Muskand Jeff Bezos. About one-third of Americans (32%) say people will build colonies on other planets that can be lived in for long periods by 2068.

Research contact: info@pewresearch.org