The year 2018 was the busiest one for launches in decades. There were a total of 111 completely successful launches out of 114 attempts. It was the highest total since 1990, when 124 launches were conducted.
China set a new record for launches in 2018. The nation launched 39 times with 38 successes in a year that saw a private Chinese company fail in the country’s first ever orbital launch attempt.
On the heels of the launch of 60 SpaceX Starlink satellites on Thursday comes news that SpaceX has raised $1.02 billion since the beginning of the year. CNBC reports:
SpaceX continues to accelerate its fundraising, as SEC filings indicate the company sought equity rounds of $500 million in January and $400 million in April. CEO Elon Musk had said those rounds were oversubscribed in terms of investor interest.
The filing on Friday, an amendment of the company’s April filings, shows that SpaceX did bring in more funding than expected. The company raised $1.02 billion since the beginning of the year – greater than the $900 million it sought across the two rounds. Gigafund, led by Luke Nosek (a PayPal co-founder and SpaceX board member) and Stephen Oskoui, once again invested in the round for SpaceX, people familiar with the fundraising told CNBC.
Meanwhile, things at Musk’s electric car company aren’t nearly as rosy.
Kara Swisher of Recode posted an interview with Elon Musk last week. Below are lightly edited excepts concerning SpaceX and Musk’s plans for Mars.
Well let’s get to rockets, then. SpaceX. Last time we talked, you said you wanted to die on Mars, just not on landing. Which was a very funny joke, although it’s probably not a joke, it’s probably —
Well, it’d be ironic if that had happened. I have to be careful about tempting fate, because I think often the most ironic outcome is the most probable….
Instead of discussing your death, let’s discuss what’s going on at SpaceX. What are some of the things you’re doing?
We successfully launched the Falcon Heavy rocket, which is the most powerful rocket in the world by a factor of two. So that’s twice the power, twice the thrust of the next biggest rocket. And we actually launched a Tesla — my Tesla Roadster — to Mars orbit. The reason we did that is actually because, normally, when a new rocket is launched, you just put a dummy payload, which is like a block of concrete or something. (more…)
Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the Securities and Exchange Commission have reached a settlement in a case in which the billionaire SpaceX founder was charged with fraud, the Los Angeles Timesreports.
Musk and Palo Alto-based Tesla agreed to pay a total of $40 million to settle the case, and he will give up his chairmanship for at least three years. The electric-car maker also is required to install an independent chairman and two new board members, though Musk will remain on the board, according to terms of the settlement.
Musk and Tesla will each pay $20 million to settle the case; both reached the deal without admitting wrongdoing. The company declined to comment.
The SEC charged Musk with fraud Thursday, alleging that his tweets about taking Tesla private — at $420 a share — were “false and misleading.” As part of the lawsuit, the agency asked a federal court to remove him from the company’s leadership and ban him from running a public company.
The world’s most powerful booster is set to make a flight test sometime in January. If all goes well, 27 first stage engines will power the new booster off Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The three first stage cores will peel off and land for later reuse while the second stage continues into space.
An international fleet of spacecraft will be launched in 2018 to explore the Moon, Mars, Mercury and the Sun. Two sample-return spacecraft will enter orbit around asteroids while a third spacecraft will be launched to search for asteroids that contain water that can be mined.
NASA will also launch its next exoplanet hunting spacecraft in March. And the space agency will ring in 2019 with the first ever flyby of a Kuiper Belt object.
And, oh yes, Elon Musk is launching his car in the direction of Mars. (more…)
Video Caption: Elon Musk has never been one to keep his long-term plans to himself. Beyond the development of reusable rockets, electric cars, and revolutionizing solar power, he has also been quite vocal about establishing a colony on Mars within his lifetime. The goal here is nothing less than ensuring the survival of the human race by creating a “backup location”, and calls for some serious planning and architecture.
These and other aspects of Musk’s proposed mission to Mars were outlined in an essay titled “Making Humans a Multi-Planetary Species“, which was published in the June 2017 issue of the journal New Space. The paper is a summary of the presentation he made at the 67th Annual Meeting of the International Astronautical Congress, which took place from September 26th–30th, 2016, in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The paper was produced by Scott Hubbard, a consulting professor at Stanford University and the Editor-in-Chief of NewSpace, and includes all the material and slides from Musk’s original presentation. Contained within are Musk’s thoughts on how the colonization of Mars could be accomplished in this century and what issues would need to be addressed.
Video Caption: Elon Musk discusses his new project digging tunnels under LA, the latest from Tesla and SpaceX and his motivation for building a future on Mars in conversation with TED’s Head Curator, Chris Anderson.
The Huffington Post has an interesting story about how “green guru” Elon Musk is getting pummeled online for his increasingly close ties to President Donald Trump.
First, President Trump, whom he opposed during the presidential campaign, named him to his Strategic and Policy Forum and his manufacturing council. Then Musk broke with the environmental community and endorsed Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil, for secretary of state. Progressives were incensed by what they viewed as Musk’s betrayal. “What did they promise you in the golden room?” one tweeted to Musk.
Next, Musk defended Trump’s controversial travel ban that targets Muslims, sending out a retweet that said “after reading the language of [Trump’s executive] order, it looks far less bad than portrayed by left.” This prompted an even more intense response from progressives. One group, Americablog, went so far as to create an online petition demanding Musk end his association with Trump. “Enough is enough,” the group declared. “Tell Elon Musk to stop defending Trump’s racism — it’s time to dump Trump.”
Later today, Elon Musk will stand on a stage at the International Astronautic Congress in Mexico and reveal his plans for sending humans to Mars and making humanity a multi-planet species.
His talk will be webcast on Tuesday, Sept. 27 beginning at 2:30 pm EDT. To access the webcast, please click here or connect on one of these websites: IAF website, IAC 2016 website and AEM website. Musk will hold a press conference afterward; it’s not known whether it will be webcast.
The description of the talk on the conference website gives us a hint about what lies ahead.
SpaceX Founder, CEO, and Lead Designer Elon Musk will discuss the long-term technical challenges that need to be solved to support the creation of a permanent, self-sustaining human presence on Mars. The technical presentation will focus on potential architectures for sustaining humans on the Red Planet that industry, government and the scientific community can collaborate on in the years ahead.
There are three questions that loom on the eve of the speech: What exactly is he going to propose? Who will pay for it? And how will he convince people it’s worth doing? A bit of parsing of the above description gives us some clues. (more…)
Video Caption: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk talks with Recode’s Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Walt Mossberg about his plans to send a one-way rocket to Mars in 2018. He estimates colonists could start arriving on the Red Planet by 2025. Musk also talks about the proliferation of electric vehicle initiatives that compete with his other company, Tesla, and why autonomous cars will become the norm. He says he doesn’t see Google as a competitor, but that “Apple will be more direct.” Plus: Why Musk wants more people to have access to the power of artificial intelligence.
Editor’s Note: Musk said he hopes to launch one of its recovered first stages within 2 to 3 months. He re-iterated his hope to launch the Falcon Heavy by the end of the year.
On Mars, Musk said SpaceX plans to send flights to Mars every 26 months beginning with the 2018 launch window. If everything goes according to plan, the first crew would be launched in 2024 and arrive the following year. He also talked about creating a way to get people to Mars in 3 months with the goal of reducing transit times to 1 month.
Musk said he thought direct democracy — people voting on laws — would be best for Mars. He feels it would be less corrupt than representative democracy. However, he felt it should be easier to repeal existing laws than to make new ones.
Musk plans to unveil his full plan for colonizing the Red Planet at a conference in Mexico in September.