Tuesday, May 14, 2019

This Week in Musk World

Tomorrow is the target date for a Falcon 9 to launch 60 Starlink satellites (the 60 satellite payload is pictured left). To be honest, of all of Elon Musk's projects - this is the one that makes me most skeptical.

Most commercial communication satellites are launched knowing their transponders are 100% sold and as long as the launch is successful a profit is all but guaranteed (and an unsuccessful launch is covered by insurance). Starlink seems to be an "if I build it people will come" project for Musk. Perhaps there's something more going on behind the curtains but like I said - I'm skeptical.

Staying in SpaceX world - there was a problem with a parachute test on Crew Dragon in April. With President Trump adding $1.6 billion to NASA's 2020 budget it looks like issues like this will get magnified (and rightfully so when manned flight is involved). However, the amount of politics involved in any NASA decisions will also get magnified (and not rightfully so).

A cartoonist explains what it's like to own a Tesla Model S. Things like this just expand the legend of Tesla. Can you imagine any better advertising? Not that Tesla uses advertising (which is a whole other can of worms and why I think much of Tesla's coverage in traditional media may be slanted against them).

Meanwhile Tesla battery partner Panasonic debunks rumors about alleged Gigafactory 1 conflicts. There is still excess capacity at Gigafactory 1 for more batteries to serve the North American and European markets. It makes sense business and politically-wise to research a "local" Chinese battery supplier for Gigafactory 3. This seems to be a nothing story rebuttal made necessary by those who would try to find issue with Tesla no matter what.

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