Science: SpaceX, NASA Push 1st Crew Dragon Take a look at Flight Again to Jan. 17

SpaceX and NASA have pushed the first test flight of the Crew Dragon capsule back by 10 days, partly to avoid a traffic jam at the International Space …

SpaceX and NASA have pushed the first test flight of the Crew Dragon capsule back by 10 days, partly to avoid a traffic jam at the International Space Station (ISS).

The maiden orbital mission of SpaceX’s astronaut taxi — an uncrewed flight to the ISS known as Demo-1 — is now scheduled to launch on Jan. 17, NASA officials announced on Friday (Dec. 7). That’s four days after one of Crew Dragon’s robotic, cargo-carrying cousins departs the orbiting lab.

The cargo Dragon arrived at the ISS on Saturday (Dec. 8), carrying more than 5,600 lbs. (2,540 kilograms) of supplies, scientific experiments and other goodies — including Christmas cookies and other treats for the Expedition 57 crew. The freighter is scheduled to depart on Jan. 13. [In Photos: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Spaceship]

Crew Dragon will lift off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which previously hosted space-shuttle and Apollo moon-mission launches.

If all goes according to plan with Demo-1, Crew Dragon will berth with the ISS, stay attached to the orbiting lab for a few weeks, and then come back down to Earth in a parachute-aided ocean splashdown, as its cargo cousins do.

Demo-1 will help prove out all these activities before Crew Dragon carries astronauts on the Demo-2 mission, a flight to the ISS that’s currently targeted for June 2019. Between those two missions, SpaceX will conduct an uncrewed “in-flight abort” test with the capsule, demonstrating its ability to get astronauts away from danger in the event of a launch anomaly.

“We still have more work to do as the certification process, hardware development and readiness reviews continue,” Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, said in a statement.

“The key readiness reviews along with NASA’s continued analysis of hardware and software testing and certification data must be closed out prior to launch,” she added. “The upcoming steps before the test missions are critical, and their importance can’t be understated. We are not driven by dates, but by data. Ultimately, we’ll fly SpaceX Demo-1 at the right time, so we get the right data back to support the in-flight abort test and the next test flight when our astronauts are aboard.”

SpaceX holds a multibillion-dollar commercial-crew contract with NASA, as does aerospace giant Boeing. Boeing is developing a capsule called the CST-100 Starliner, which is scheduled to fly its first uncrewed test mission in the spring of 2019.

Once Crew Dragon and Starliner are up and running, NASA will no longer be entirely dependent on Russian Soyuz rockets and spacecraft to get American astronauts to and from the ISS. This has been the situation since July 2011, when NASA grounded its space shuttle fleet.

SpaceX also holds a cargo contract with NASA and has flown 16 resupply missions to the orbiting lab since 2010. Northrop Grumman makes ISS cargo flights as well, using Antares rockets and Cygnus freighters.

Mike Wall’s book about the search for alien life, “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate) is out now. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us or Facebook. Originally published on Space.com.

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Tesla Drops A New Model 3 Easter Egg, Hints At More On The Way

In a recent tweet, Tesla CEO Elon Musk hinted that another batch of easter eggs would be on the way for Tesla owners just in time for Christmas. Sure …
Autonomous Vehicles

Published on December 13th, 2018 | by Kyle Field

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December 13th, 2018 by


A new easter egg has surfaced in the Tesla Model 3 that pulls up a design sketch of the car. The easter egg can be conjured by tapping the Tesla T from the main screen to pull up the “About Your Tesla” screen. From there, just hold down on the Model 3 logo for a few seconds, which makes the normal Model 3 zoom away and the sketch appears.

Tesla has a history of releasing fun easter eggs, or hidden surprises, buried in the operating systems of its vehicles, and the Model 3 is no exception. With the arrival of the Model 3, Tesla put most of the easter eggs into a single screen that can be found behind the “About Your Tesla” screen by pulling down on the tab at the top.

Most recently, Tesla added Atari games to its cars, which can only be played when the vehicle is in Park. These hint at a fully autonomous future in which passengers in a Tesla vehicle can use the 15″ touchscreen for entertainment functions such as video playback or streaming as the vehicle drives them to their destination.

In a recent tweet, Tesla CEO Elon Musk hinted that another batch of easter eggs would be on the way for Tesla owners just in time for Christmas. Sure, that might be Elon time and it could be 2019 before they show up, but the prospect of more fun from the in-car experience is just one more reason to buy a Tesla. The 15″ touchscreen combined with over-the-air updates makes the Tesla a truly one-of-a-kind ownership experience.

About 10 to 14 days

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 11, 2018

With that tweet about the arrival time, the new easter eggs may well be Christmas related. Tesla has a few Christmas related features.

The idea of easter eggs started off with video games way back in the late 1970s with the Atari 2600 in the game Adventure. It was a way for the game designer to add a special fun touch that rewarded players for playing the game for fun and not just to win. It was featured in the recent book-made-into-movie Ready Player One, which celebrated ’80s video game culture and was a flashback to childhood for many.


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I’m a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. TSLA investor. Tesla referral code: http://ts.la/kyle623

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If Starlink Succeeds Then SpaceX Revenue Will Be More Than Double NASA’s Budget

However, SpaceX could lower the Falcon 9 Block 5 (F9) costs by consistently having ten re-uses of each F9. Currently, SpaceX will soon perform its …

Nextbigfuture has calculated how the Super Heavy Starship will make deploying the Starlink satellite network $1 to $2 billion cheaper to launch than with Falcon 9s. The Super Heavy Starship will be able to deploy over five times the number of Starlinks satellites per launch and the cost per launch will be three times less. The lower launch cost will be because of the full reusability.

However, SpaceX could lower the Falcon 9 Block 5 (F9) costs by consistently having ten re-uses of each F9. Currently, SpaceX will soon perform its fourth relaunch of the same first stage and could begin reusing the waterproof farings.

It is worth New York and Chicago $100 million per year to put a premium microwave data connection between the two cities. This shaves 5% of the latency time from pricing updates and order placement. This has a lot of value when a big stock starts making a rapid move up or down.

There would be 190 combinations of pairs of the top 20 financial cities. There are 435 combinations of pairs of the top 30 financial cities. If the top $100 million per year was paid by the top 20 cities, then this would be $19 billion per year. If the premium internet pairing for the connections to 21 to 30 was worth $10 million per year then this would be another $2.45 billion per year. Even with a half-price discount, the total would still be $10 billion per year.

The SpaceX Starlinks could save 30-50% of the latency time. This is because the speed of light is almost twice as fast in space as it is in a glass fiber. The value for the Starlink financial latency reduction should be even higher. Let us say it is double the New York to Chicago price. This means the premium pairing of cities is worth over $40 billion per year.

Other industries may pay for premium pairing but there has to be a lot of money involved and value for shaving 30 milliseconds at some time in the year.

Internet Backhaul and 5G

SpaceX Starlink network will make money by helping improve the entire global internet. They will be able to provide a high bandwidth alternative to fiber.

90 percent of all internet traffic travels over wireline fiber, even if it ultimately goes on a wireless device.

It has been estimated that deploying 5G wireless speeds 10 to 100 times faster than 4G will cost $130 to $150 billion in fiber optic cabling alone over the next 5 to 7 years. There is a 28-page report from Deloitte on 5G and fiber. The Deloitte report was for the USA only. Europe and Asia will also build out 5G.

The SpaceX Starlink network would not replace fiber for the last mile or for less than 2000 miles. However, the backbone connections are where SpaceX Starlink will provide superior value and bandwidth relief.

Consumer Market

The consumer market for internet will be later for SpaceX Starlink. The consumer needs a cheap phased array flat receiver to track the fast-moving low-earth-orbit satellites. The satellites will circle the earth every 90 minutes or so. An antenna would need to track it moving across the sky over a few minutes and then switch to the next satellite. Currently, the Kymeta flat satellite receivers cost about $40,000 each. They are like a flat panel TV in form factor and in factory production. They “should” be able to drop towards the price of a flat panel TV display in price. A 32-inch flat TV can be bought for about $100 and a 40-inch TV can be about $300.

Starlink Funding and SpaceX Will Become Twice as Big as NASA

Given the future value of the Starlink satellite network, will Elon Musk be able to arrange the financing?

I think funding is a certainty. I think they will be able to rapidly ramp to $50 billion per year in revenue. This revenue would be more than double NASA’s annual budget. Direct TV is part of AT&T and makes about $40 billion per year in revenue.

Aggressive Financing in the 1980s and 1990s

Craig McCaw is a billionaire who financed an early cellular network by borrowing against and selling shares in a cable operation.

There have been other times when large telecommunication and satellite networks were built with many billions.

If Elon Musk and SpaceX desired, it seems they could arrange for advanced deposits from the major financial companies. SpaceX needs to get the Starlink satellites to the point where it is clearly “only” a matter of deployment and scaling.

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SpaceX Will Go All-In For SuperHeavy Starship and Starlink

SpaceX generated about $2.5 billion in revenues annually. In the 12 months ending in September, it produced $270 million in earnings before interest …

A Forbes article by a knowledgeable writer on the Space Industry has some more insights on SpaceX’s financial situation.

SpaceX generated about $2.5 billion in revenues annually. In the 12 months ending in September, it produced $270 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. A Bloomberg account of a SpaceX debt placement found SpaceX included pre-payments by customers in its earnings calculations while excluding some research expenditures. Without those adjustments, SpaceX would have sustained a loss.

SpaceX is still moving fast. In December, it appears they will be able to reuse the $6 million nosecone farings. They made the farings waterproof. If SpaceX sustained 20 launches per year then this would save them about $100 million per year. I am assuming $1 million for recovery and reconditioning.

In December, SpaceX proved that they should be able to reuse the first stage four times or more. Previously they were able to reuse two times. They flew the first stage once and then reused it once. They can now fly it once and re-use three or more times. SpaceX believes they can reuse it nine or ten times and then give them an overhaul and continue using them.

In 2019, let us suppose the average first stage re-use is four times. I think the first stage is about $30 million in cost. If half were used twice and half were used once in the 12 months up to September, then the cost was about $23 million per launch. In 2019, if half are used once and half are used four times, then the average cost is $60 million over five launches. This is $12 million per launch.

Twenty launches times $11 million is $220 million per year.

Sometimes they will need to launch once because they will not re-land.

I think SpaceX will be $300 million to $400 million more profitable on Falcon 9 block 5 launches.

If SpaceX gets higher profit NASA crewed launches two or three times per year and higher profit Falcon Heavy launches and some military launches then they make an estimated $50 million to $100 million of profit for each of those launches. Five of those launches is $250 million to $500 million.

Starlink and Super Heavy Starship

Previously Nextbigfuture has calculated how the Super Heavy Starship will make deploying the Starlink satellite network $1 to $2 billion cheaper to launch than with Falcon 9s.

Nextbigfuture also estimates, SpaceX Starlink will make several billion dollars per year from the finance industry for premium low latency connections. It was worth New York and Chicago $100 million per year to put a premium microwave data connection between the two cities. This was to shave 5% of the time from pricing updates and order placement.

There would be 190 combinations of pairs of the top 20 financial cities. There are 435 combinations of pairs of the top 30 financial cities. If the top $100 million per year was paid by the top 20 cities, then this would be $19 billion per year. If the premium internet pairing for the connections to 21 to 30 was worth $10 million per year then this would be another $2.45 billion per year. Even with a half-price discount, the total would still be $10 billion per year.

The SpaceX Starlinks could save 30-50% of the latency time. The value for the Starlink financial latency reduction should be even higher.

Given the future value of the Starlink satellite network, will Elon Musk be able to arrange the financing?

It only makes sense for SpaceX to go all out for that Starlink and Super Heavy Starship future.

This along with Elon Musks personality and history of making the daring business moves.

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Elon Musk says Tesla could unveil prototype electric ute in 2019

Elon Musk has tweeted that he is keen to get a prototype of his favourite project – the all-electric Tesla pickup (or, ute) – out as soon as next year.

Elon Musk has tweeted that he is keen to get a prototype of his favourite project – the all-electric Tesla pickup (or, ute) – out as soon as next year.

The Tesla CEO has previously put the pickup at third on his list of priorities, coming after the Model Y and rooftop solar tiles, and if that order hasn’t changed it means 2019 is going to be (another) busy year for Musk and Tesla.

The tweet came in response to a fan asking, “When can I order my pickup truck?”

Musk responded, “I’m dying to make a pickup truck so bad … we might have a prototype to unveil next year.”

I’m dying to make a pickup truck so bad … we might have a prototype to unveil next year

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 11, 2018

When Musk first put it out there to Twitter fans that he was thinking about a Tesla pickup in July 2018, he ignited the interest of many, drawing rapid responses from many, including some switched on Aussies.

Of course, pickups are referred to as utes here in Australia (short for utility), as @ManWhoEatsTime pointed out:

Pickup? Mate. I wanna see a Tesla Ute mate.

Something that’s tough enough to haul a pig to market on Saturday, yet classy enough to drive the misses to church on Sunday. Something yanks just don’t get when building “pickups”…

— ManWhoEatsTime (@ManWhoEatsTime) June 28, 2018

Since then, the topic of the Tesla pickup/ute has been raised a few times, for instance at the third quarter earnings call when Musk said he is most “excited about the pickup truck – that’s going to be some next level stuff there”.

Indeed – according to comments made more recently in an interview with Recode Decode’s Kara Swisher, Elon Musk has said that the electric pickup design will be “really futuristic like cyberpunk”, and ““gonna have a lot of titanium”.

It might not be the tradie’s ute that ManWhoEatsTime was hoping for, nor the F100-style that one blogger mocked up back in 2016, but then Tesla’s visionary CEO is not one to do things by halves.

tesla pickup
Credit: McHoffa/Ev Network

Whether the electric pickup prototype actually makes to an unveiling next year thought is of course yet to be seen.

Musk admitted in a 60 Minutes Overtime interview last week with Lesley Stahl that he is “dumb at predicting dates”.

So it may be that we will not see the pickup prototype until “next year, in Elon time” – but as another Twit has said, “Some things are worth the wait.”

Some things are worth the wait.

— Zmansk88 (@Zmansk88) December 11, 2018

Bridie Schmidt

Bridie Schmidt is staff writer for www.TheDriven.io, and RenewEconomy.com.au. She specialises in writing about new technology, as well as using her technical skills in managing our websites.

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