Elon Musk’s Martian Waterpark

In case you haven’t heard, Elon Musk is very rich. As someone who grew up in the Hamptons, I know that rich people can afford to have bonkers-ass dreams and convince people they’re good ones. Musk’s ambition to send crewed missions to Mars in the next 10 years is a bit ambitious. But even that seems reasonable considering his ultimate goal of sending thousands of everyday people to and from Mars on a rocket that hasn’t been invented yet.

That said, could Elon Musk finally get to play Martian overlord by the 2060s? I’ve seen more impossible things happen in the last two months alone. Also, telling people they should be prepared to die to fulfill his pipe dream is pretty shitty marketing.

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Yes, Elon Musk Is Actually Really Boring

Musk is a serious person, but he can also be something of a loose cannon, making outlandish statements designed to troll the press or simply amuse himself. In a 2015 interview with Stephen Colbert he semi-seriously endorsed dropping nuclear weapons on Mars; last year he implied on Twitter that he’s developing an Iron Man-style flying suit for the Pentagon. Most reporters assumed that the tunnel thing was another one of his jokes.

Musk wouldn’t seem to be in a particularly good ideological position to benefit from Trump’s infrastructure largesse. He’s a climate change hawk who was so closely identified with the Obama administration that Mitt Romney attacked Tesla during the 2012 debates. (Tesla had received a government-guaranteed loan in 2010.) In the next presidential election, Musk supported Hillary Clinton for president, describing Trump, in an interview with CNBC, as a man who “doesn’t seem to have the sort of character that reflects well on the United States.”

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Beware of Elon Musk, Who ‘Didn’t Build That’

The truth is that Musk went rent-seeking with the government by way of his network, got a loan to demonstrate that Tesla was an operational company with real possibilities, and used that fact to go to Wall Street to raise capital. It is a lot easier to raise capital when you have the federal government demonstrating it believes in you.

But hey, it’s not like Musk and Obama are buddies. Then again, they did have dinner in February 2015, Musk donating almost $36,000 to the 2012 Obama Victory Fund, and another 30 grand to the Democratic National Committee.

This back-scratching feels like it extends to SpaceX.  On Sept. 1, its Falcon 9 rocket exploded on the launch pad during a test run. It took less than four months for the FAA to approve SpaceX’s explanation for the explosion and to schedule a new flight.

Four months?

Remember how NASA flipped out after any mishap involving the space shuttle, and would ban flights for years until they figured out what was wrong? As of now, SpaceX is privately funded. Yet the obvious capital injection by the government seems inevitable. After all, the government can outsource any of its orbital needs to SpaceX, which would naturally mean offering it a massive loan in order to hasten that process. With this week’s successful launch, get ready for more government money for Musk.

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SpaceX lost a quarter of a billion dollars after one of its rockets blew up

“The company lost $260 million in 2015 when one of its Falcon 9 rockets, carrying two tons of cargo to the international space station, exploded shortly after liftoff,” writers Rolfe Winkler and Andy Pasztor reported for The Journal. The financial hit was so hard because of launch delays. SpaceX did an internal investigationand made changes […]

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What Did Elon Musk Promise?

Musk is a crony-capitalist of the worst ilk. He plays both side of the aisle and wraps it all up in fanciful oratory about colonizing Mars. American’s literally eat it up. Musk is so popular you would think he was the real Tony Stark. His latest dazzling promise was to send colonists to Mars by 2024 (for $200K a one-way ticket). No guarantees you will make it alive, and no, Musk won’t be joining you on the trip. Have fun being the first Martians.

The lofty interstellar goal of living on Mars is inspired by Star Wars and Star Trek dreams and comes with an out of this world price tag…about $10 billion. Rockets are expensive and Musk has plans to blow up a few more of them as he pretends to be colonizes the red planet. The last rocket that blew, the Falcon 9, cost several hundred million in lost cargo alone. Musk actually blames that on real Martian sabotage, but that’s another story.

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ELON MUSK HAS DELIVERY ISSUES

But, while his grand gestures inspire awe and curiosity, they often fall short in the execution. Since 2011, Tesla has failed to meet Musk’s product-launch, production, and financial-performance promises more than twenty times, according to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal. Even a private showing, in early January, of Tesla’s new Gigafactory, in Storey County, Nevada—which Musk claims is on schedule to mass-produce lithium-ion batteries at rock-bottom costs by 2018—didn’t instill confidence in Musk’s ability to achieve his stated goals. As the Pacific Crest Securities research analyst Brad Erickson said in a note, the tour left “much to the imagination.”

And in September an explosion destroyed an unmanned SpaceX rocket on the launch pad during a fuelling exercise—an incident that called into question the viability of Musk’s radical notion to refuel craft en route, with astronauts on board. A little more than a year earlier, a NASA-funded SpaceX rocket carrying cargo destined for the International Space Station exploded two minutes after lift-off, destroying the payload. A NASA report on that incident raised questions about quality standards at Musk’s company.

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SpaceX is super-cooling its rocket fuel— why that could be a problem

For nearly a year, SpaceX has been trying out something new: super-cooling the liquid oxygen (LOX) which is a key ingredient in rocket fuel. It’s called deep-cryo LOX, and the idea has been around since NASA began designing rockets over 60 years ago. But no one has had the guts to actually fly rockets regularly with deep-cryo LOX.

We spoke with associate professor of aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech, Mitchell Walker, to understand why SpaceX chills its LOX cooler than anyone else and whether or not this is a good idea.

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