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Elon Musk Says SpaceX's About to Launch And 'Hover' a Mars Rocket Prototype

SpaceX to perform hop-and-hover launch of its Mars rocket prototype

South Texas will witness the most ambitious test launch of SpaceX with a shiny Mars rocket prototype. Over the past 8 months, workers have been working upon a coastal launch site to prepare the stout and three-legged prototype for testing. It is made of stainless steel and have the shape of a badminton shuttlecock and is equipped with the next-gen Raptor rocket engines.

Elon Musk has named his company’s six-story tall rocket ship as “Starhopper” as it is made to hop to altitudes no higher than 3 miles but not to fly into space. The Starship is a 400-foot tall launch system for the powerful Starhopper.  The company’s vision lies in taking dozens of people to Moon and Mars, deploying many satellites at a time and rocketing people around Earth for a few minutes. The Starhopper was fired up in April for the first time and the vehicle was lifted for no more than a few inches and subsequent tests lifted it further but not by much.

The engineers are hoping to take the vehicle up to 20 meters above its own height and Musk also added that the Starhopper will move sideways and land back on its launch pad. SpaceX spokesperson said that the hop and hover test is a series of tests designed to push the limits of the vehicle as quickly and as fast as possible within safety limits.

SpaceX will launch Star hopper from 14:00-20:00 Hours CT on 16th July. The schedule for launch can be quite dynamic and subject to change with development programs.  The company will flow liquid oxygen through the engine to check for plumbing and hardware and a static fire test attempt on Monday if everything works out fine. The static fire test would add methane to flowing oxygen to ignite and burn the Raptor Engine for a matter of seconds to check its functioning.  The launch site is located near Boca Chica Beach in South Texas. Spacehopper was confirmed by Musk in late 2018.

It marks the beginning of the Starship Program. It is building a Mark 1 Starship (Mk1) prototype which is designed to reach the orbit. Mk1 Starship is hopeful to reach 20km up in a few months but the issued government license allows experimental vehicles up to 5Km and lasting up to 6 minutes. It is working on regulatory approval for the prototypes. The company plans to launch prototypes into orbit by end of 2020 and a full-scale Starship to the moon by 2023 and a manned mission to Mars by 2026.

Imaging X ray Polarimetry Explorer

SpaceX wins NASA contract for launching black hole and neutron star research spacecraft

Elon Musk’s SpaceX obtained its sixth contracted mission under National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of estimated cost $50.3 million to launch Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer, or IXPE using the First stage booster on a board of Falcon 9 rocket. This explorer space shuttle will investigate the polarized (limited to a single plane) cosmic rays coming from surrounding sources like neutron stars, pulsar wind nebulae and supermassive black holes.

This research spacecraft will give a more clear perception of the universe around black holes, neutron stars and a pulsar (remains of an exploded star) that we can’t see. It will help to discover the beginning and destiny of universe and various unknown facts behind black holes and neutron stars.

The IXPE on a board of Falcon 9 rocket will fly into a completely unusual 335-mile-high (540-kilometre) equatorial orbital range with 0-degree inclination. This will reduce its risk to cosmic radiation in the South Atlantic Anomaly where Van Allen radiation belt is closest to earth.

SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement that SpaceX’s having its sixth contracted mission from NASA’s i.e. IXPE tells that NASA now has faith on SpaceX for placing crucial science payloads in orbit.

Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) comprises of three similar space telescopes with sense detection methodology which will measure the polarisation of cosmic X-rays, allowing scientists to answer fundamental questions about these turbulent environments where gravitational, electric and magnetic fields are at their limits.

The launch is supposed to take place on April 2021 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A, Kennedy Centre in Florida. The total cost for the contract is around $50.3million (£39million). It will cost much less than the SpaceX mission to launch Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission whose cost was around $69 million because of the previously used First Stage Booster.

 

SpaceX has previously completed 74 Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy missions, including two for NASA’s Launch Services Program, Jason-3 and TESS. Besides IXPE mission, SpaceX’s future launch demonstrate includes NASA’s LSP missions SWOT, Sentinel-6A, and DART.

Starlink Mission

SpaceX loses contact with 3 of its starlink internet satellites

Recently, the well-renowned company SpaceX had launched the first batch of its much awaited “Starlink” program satellites. The commencement witnessed 60 spacecraft which were launched in the orbit which is very close to the earth.

In the recent report provided by SpaceX revealed that they are no more in touch with three of the 60 internet satellites.

Apart from these three satellites, SpaceX has said that the remaining 57 spacecrafts are working in an apropos manner. 45 of these 57 Starlink satellites have reached their desired orbit which is 342 miles from earth. Five satellites are still in the process to raise their orbits and there are another 5 satellites which are under system checks for future launching.

For the last 2 spacecrafts, SpaceX plans to test their deorbiting feature and for that, they will be crashing them straight into earth’s atmosphere though they do not have any problems. The remaining three failed satellites will crash into earth within a year due to their positioning in a lower orbit.

This failure hasn’t perturbed SpaceX and its higher authorities as they claim that the technology used is relatively new and thus prone to error. This kind of reaction from SpaceX has made people think about how they have been permitted for such a project. To support the launching of this project, Elon Musk-led company says that they have taken permission from the Federal Communications Commission. This permission grants them to place nearly 12000 small spacecrafts in the upcoming 8 years.

The main agenda behind this project is to provide ubiquitous internet with high bandwidth. For the same purpose, this Starlink constellation will be used for streaming videos and will also enable to play high bandwidth games aiding them to understand the operability and latency.

On the other hand, the failure of those three satellites has caused contemplation amongst the space scholars who think that the debris will enhance the chances of the collision leading to catastrophic results. This has come at a time where NASA’s research says that almost 99% of satellites should be removed within half a decade for the proper functioning of necessary space projects.

To bolster their point, Elon Musk has assured that his company is in touch with the US Air Force which helps them in locating their spacecrafts and avoid any kind of collisions. Along with this, Musk has also spoken about their initiative to contact different astronomy groups for taking their guidance which will provide a path to make necessary amendments in their systems.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk: The Real-Life Tony Stark (Iron Man)

Elon Musk, one of the most inspiring businessmen of the 20th century is the CEO and CTO of SpaceX CEO, chief product architect of Tesla Motors, chairman of SolarCity, and co-founder of PayPal. Musk is associated with many other revolutionary projects like Hyperloop and he owns many potential companies like Neuralink and OpenAI. So, let us know more about this revolutionary man and get to know how did Musk manage to achieve so much.

See: A beautiful infographic on Musk’s Life

Personal Life and Education

Elon Reeve Musk was born on 28th June in the year 1971. He was born in the city of Pretoria, South Africa and then moved to Canada to attend the Queen’s University – one of the top schools in Ontario.  Musk was a child to a South African father named Errol Musk who was an engineer by profession and a Canadian mother named Maye Musk who was a nutritionist and a model.

He exhibited early computer and entrepreneurial talents. Musk was fascinated by science fiction and computers in his teenage years. When he was twelve, he developed the code and programming for his own video game and immediately sold the prospects to a company.

Musk left South Africa in 1988 after acquiring a Canadian passport because he was reluctant to help dictatorship through compulsory military service and because he was searching for higher financial prospects in the United States. Musk went to Canada and studied at Queen’s University.

In the year 1992 Musk left Canada and went to the USA. Musk studied business and physics at the Pennsylvania University in Philadelphia. He then graduated with a degree in economics and continued to pursue a second bachelor’s degree in Physics. After completing his courses at Penn, he went on for a Ph.D. in the subject of Energy Physics from Stanford University. 

This drastic shift was completely and totally timed with the Internet boom, and after just two days of joining he dropped out of Stanford to become a major part of the internet boom, starting his first business, the Zip2 Corporation. The company developed and marketed an Internet city guide for the newspaper publishing industry. Zip2 soon began providing content for the newly curated websites of the famous Chicago Tribune and The New York Times. But then Compaq acquired Zip2 for around 341 million USD in February 1999.

PAYPAL THIEL ELON MUSK

Chief Executive Officer Peter Thiel, left, and founder Elon Musk, right, pose with the PayPal logo at corporate headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

Just one month after selling Zip2 Musk co-founded X.com which then went on to become PayPal after merging with Confinity in 2000. In October 2002, PayPal was acquired by eBay for a whopping 1.5 billion USD in stocks out of which Musk got 165 million USD. Then Musk went on to set up, own and lead massive companies. Let us look at those companies.

List of Companies Elon Musk Owns

Tesla Motors

Tesla Incorporation, which was originally known as Tesla Motors was incorporated by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. These men played active roles until the involvement of Elon Musk. He had been interested in the possibilities of electric cars for a very long time and was intrigued by science and fiction. In the year 2004, Musk became one of the major funders of Tesla Motors.

Elon Musk devoted the firm to the manufacture of inexpensive, mass-market electric vehicles, battery products, and solar roofs. Musk now extensively supervises the creation, architecture, and layout of all the products of the company.

Almost 5 years after Tesla was created, the company unveiled the Roadster. It is a sports car capable of going from 0 to 60 mph in approximately 3.7 seconds. The Roadster is also able to drive nearly 250 miles between various charges of its lithium-ion battery. 

Tesla Motors went public in June 2010, earning $226 million with a share in the business taken by Daimler and a strategic alliance with Toyota.

The company’s additional achievements include the ‘’Model S’’, which is the first electric sedan of the firm. The Model S was honored by Motor Trend magazine as the 2013 Car of the Year, capable of covering 265 miles between charges.

Tesla has also launched its Model 3 recently. The car was initially priced at $35,000, a much more accessible price point than the $69,500 and up for it’s Model S and X electric sedans.

Tesla has also launched its Model Y and Semi-trucks recently.

SpaceX

Musk founded his third company, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, in 2002 with the intention of building spacecraft for commercial space travel. By 2008, SpaceX was well established, and NASA awarded the company the contract to handle cargo transport for the International Space Station—with plans for astronaut transport in the future—in a move to replace NASA’s own space shuttle missions.

On May 22, 2012, as the firm launched its Falcon 9 rocket into orbit with an aerial capsule, Musk and SpaceX created history together. With 1,000 pounds of supplies and types of equipment for the astronauts stationed there, the vehicle was sent to the International Space Station, marking the first time a private company had sent a spacecraft to the International Space Station. Musk was quoted from the launch as saying, “I’m very lucky… It’s like winning the Super Bowl for us.”

Today, Musk has various ambitious plans with SpaceX ranging from sending humans to Mars to building a network of 12000 satellites (Starlink Project) in lower earth orbit to provide super fast internet

Solar city

Musk provided SolarCity with the initial concept and financial capital, which was then co-founded in 2006 by his cousins Lyndon and Peter Rive. SolarCity was the second most massive solar power system provider in the United States by the year 2013. Tesla, Inc. acquired SolarCity in 2016 and is currently a completely owned Tesla subsidiary. 

The underlying motivation for both SolarCity and Tesla Motors was to help combat global warming. In 2012, Musk declared that SolarCity and Tesla Motors are working together to ease the effect of rooftop solar on the power grid by using electric vehicle batteries.

Some other companies of Elon Musk also include:

Elon Musk’s Achievements: 

Elon Musk is definitely considered to be one of the biggest inventors and innovators in this era. Some of his incredible life achievements can be summed up as:

  • In the year 1983 Musk taught himself computer programming and at the age of 12, he programmed and sold the code for a BASIC-based video game he created called Blastar for approximately US$500.
  • In 1995 he started Zip2, a web software company.
  • In 1999 Musk co-founded X.com, online financial services, and e-mail payment company, with US$10 million from the sale of Zip2. He used every single penny he had and invested it into his business and had to borrow money also. 
  • In 2002 PayPal was acquired by eBay for US$1.5 billion in stock, of which Musk received US$165 million.
  • CEO and chief product architect of Tesla Motors. Elon Musk has revolutionized the concept of electric cars. 
  • Founder of Space Exploration Technologies, also known as SpaceX.
  • Proposed the concept of Hyperloop in 2013
  • In 2015 Tesla launched Powerwall.
  • In 2015 Musk stated the creation of OpenAI.
  • Musk unveiled a concept for a high-speed transportation system Hyperloop.
  • Acquired  SolarCity for $2.6 billion.

Elon Musk’s Vision and Views

Space exploration’s boundless potential and the conservation of the human race’s future have become the foundations of Musk’s ongoing concerns. He has established the Musk Foundation which is completely devoted to space exploration and the advancement of renewable and clean energy sources.

Elon Musk

Credit: Flickr

In a more political manner, Musk has evidently portrayed himself to be a half Democrat and a half Republican. He considers himself to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Elon Musk has also actively stated that he doesn’t want the US government to provide subsidies to various companies but should instead use and implement a carbon tax to put a price on the negativity of air contamination and to discourage their poor behaviour. 

Artificial Intelligence:

Musk has frequently spoken about the proposed risks of artificial intelligence, calling it “the most severe threat to the human race’s existence.” During a 2014 interview at the MIT AeroAstro Centennial Symposium, Musk outlined AI as the greatest existential threat to humanity, adding, “I am increasingly willing to believe that there should be some parliamentary supervision, perhaps at the national and International levels just to make sure that we don’t end up doing something foolish.” 

The creation of Artificial Intelligence has been described by Elon Musk as something similar to that of summoning the demon. 

Conclusion

In a nutshell, we can definitely say that Elon Musk is not an average human being. From the creation of Zip2 to that of SpaceX, he is a self-made man and has taught himself how to code in just a matter of a few days. He has earned degrees in both Physics and Economics and is now a billionaire. 

Quite interesting to know, Robert Downey Jr, used Elon Musk as his inspiration for getting into character like Iron Man. Musk’s enthusiastic embrace of technology for technology’s sake and his passion to push the limits of what was considered to be potential for private enterprise made him a close real-world analog for Marvel’s billionaire arms dealer.

If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it. Click To Tweet

For all the entrepreneurs looking for motivation, Elon Musk sure acts as a character of success. The goals that Musk have persevered have been those that have not only inspired himself but also the team of people he’s assigned to work with him. 

An Infographic on Musk’s Life

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Elon Msk infographic

Starlink Mission

SpaceX launched the first batch of 60 satellites in Starlink satellites project

SpaceX, the space transportation company founded by Elon Musk successfully launched 60 of its Starlink satellites. If everything goes properly, then the Starlink network of satellites can provide superfast internet connectivity across the globe.

Before the launch of the satellites from Cape Canaveral, Florida, SpaceX announced that Starlink will make the entire earth connected through reliable and cheap broadband connectivity.

The first Starlink mission was broadcast by SpaceX which was launched by a Falcon 9 rocket at 10:30 pm ET on 24th May. Just over an hour of the liftoff, all the 30000 pounds of satellites were deployed by the rockets’ upper stage. This is the heaviest payload which the SpaceX has launched till date.

The release of spacecrafts took place 440 kilometres above the Earth’s surface over the Indian Ocean. The method of deployment was described as odd yet efficient by Elon Musk, as it managed to launch 60 satellites at once. Usually, during a multi-satellite deployment process, a device present at the uppermost stage of the rocket deploys them one after the another with the help of complex spring mechanisms. In December, SpaceX successfully deployed 64 satellites in this way with the help of one rocket.

However this time, a different process was followed by SpaceX. The rocket’s upper stage was spun resembling that of a baseball pitch and slowly the whole stack of Starlink satellites were launched. A SpaceX engineer, Tom Praderio commented that since they are no deployment mechanisms present, the satellites are actually launched like a deck of cards.

The size of an individual satellite is almost that of an office desk and its weight is closely 500 pounds. It is equipped with solar panels and has antennas present for transmission of data. Besides that, the spacecraft has an ion engine which releases krypton gas. It would prevent the Starlink satellite colliding with other satellites and avoid space junk. Once it nears its useful life, it would self-destruct. The engine will also power the satellite to an orbit of 550 kilometres above Earth.

However, the present batch of satellites lack a major component, laser beam interlinks. The future satellites will have these lasers for connecting with other four satellites. In this way, it will form a strong mesh network over Earth facilitating the internet speed almost to that of light’s speed in a vacuum. It is almost 50% greater than fibre-optic cables giving the Starlink satellites a great advantage over the current status.

SpaceX aims to deploy 12000 similar satellites before the deadline of 2027 set by the Federal Communications Commission. For reaching this goal, SpaceX needs to launch more than a mission per month through the next eight years. However, for making the concept work and generate revenue, it needs to launch only 1000 satellites which is way less than 12000.

 

Falcon Heavy Side Boosters landing

SpaceX Falcon Heavy launches its first commercial mission and achieves triple booster landing

The Falcon Heavy rocket of SpaceX which is the most powerful flying vehicle today successfully launched its first commercial mission. It also managed to land all the three rocket boosters successfully. This is after a year when its testing mission landed a red Tesla in space.

This mega rocket took off from the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday from the same launching pad 39A which once hosted the historic NASA’s Apollo missions. The rocket launched the communications satellite, ArabSat-6A, which is intended to provide internet and related communication services to the people from the Middle East, Africa and also some parts of Europe.

Falcon Heavy had to wait for a day due to unfavorable weather conditions at the launch site, but the second flight took off without any problems at the initial stages of the 2 hour launching attempt. A Falcon Heavy rocket comprises of three first stages of Falcon 9 which combines to make the megarocket of 27 engines. The launch featured Block 5 version of its rockets which is an upgrade from the demo launch of Falcon Heavy.

The special appeal of Falcon Heavy is due to its reusable hardware. The rocket boosters are landed back on Earth so that they are refurbished and be fit to use again. This approach can reduce the cost of spaceflight to a great extent. This Block 5 Falcon 9 can fly as many as 9-10 times without any refurbishment between flights which is a massive upgrade from its earlier 2-3 times. This was made possible due to the design changes which were brought by the engineers which included improvement in the engines, a durable interstage( the connecting piece between the two stages of rocket), an enhanced thermal protection method.

In this attempt, two out of three side-boosters landed safely on the grounded pads in Florida while the central third one landed on SpaceX’s platform controlled remotely on the Atlantic Ocean. This is a significant achievement on the side of rocket launch and satellite transmission as the Falcon heavy boasts of twice more power but one third the price of Delta IV Heavy of the United Launch Alliance, which is a joint venture between the Boeing and Lockheed Martin for government contracts which need launch vehicles for heavy lift operations.

Falcon Heavy has been already awarded a $130 million contract for launching satellites of US Air Force, just four months after its initial testing in last year February. The rocket will be primarily used for military missions for the United States and deploying commercial telecommunication satellites.