LONDON— Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. may lose a spacecraft launch order from a major customer, Inmarsat PLC, even as the European satellite operator voiced confidence in the rocket company’s ability to return to flight this year.
SpaceX, as the rocket company is named, lost one of its Falcon 9 rockets in an explosion during a routine refueling exercise in September at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It destroyed an Israeli satellite Facebook Inc. planned to use to provide internet access to people in sub-Saharan Africa.
Investigators believe a refueling procedure led to the failure. Company officials hope to resume flights before year-end. Pentagon and industry officials said launch resumption before mid-January is doubtful.
Inmarsat Chief Executive Rupert Pearce said Thursday the launch of its fourth Global Xpress satellite due this year on a SpaceX rocket would be delayed until next year and that the company may shift a spacecraft due for launch next year to another rocket.
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A proposal by Elon Musk’s SpaceX to fuel its rockets while astronauts are aboard poses safety risks, a group of space industry experts that advises NASA has told the U.S. space agency.
‘This is a hazardous operation,’ Space Station Advisory Committee Chairman Thomas Stafford, a former NASA astronaut and retired Air Force general, said during a conference call on Monday.
Stafford said the group’s concerns were heightened after an explosion of an unmanned SpaceX rocket while it was being fueled on Sept. 1.
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Moore’s Law is a product of Silicon Valley, as is the tendency to misapply—with overreaching drama—it to various capital-P Problems. The September, 2013, issue of Time featured a cover story raising the tantalizing question “Can Google Solve Death?” And yet people are still turning up dead. Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, announced a $3 billion effort “to […]
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When Elon Musk introduced earthlings last month to his vision for cities on Mars, his 90-minute remarks fired up imaginations everywhere—except on Mars. For now.
Kim Stanley Robinson has done as much as anyone to bring the idea of colonizing Mars into the mainstream. The writer entwined knowledge, reasoning, and imagination into his landmark Mars trilogy—Red Mars (1992), Green Mars (1993), and Blue Mars (1996).
And to Robinson, Musk’s Martian future looks a lot like other people’s familiar past.
“Musk’s plan,” he said, “is sort of the 1920s science-fiction cliché of the boy who builds a rocket to the moon in his back yard.”
An edited transcript of an interview follows:
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Elon Musk recently took the stage in Guadalajara, Mexico, for the performance he’s waited a lifetime to give. Sporting a new, oddly manicured mustache, Musk did his best shy Tony Stark impersonation, informing a crowd of space enthusiasts that, yes, he does plan to colonize Mars. Musk’s aerospace company, SpaceX, will send thousands of rockets and people to the Red Planet—perhaps within the decade and perhaps at a cost of just $10 billion. Some of the astronauts will die as part of the experiment. Others will live out their days in … well, Musk was not very specific on that.
Musk continues to befuddle planet earth. He’s part techno messiah—a being sent here from the future to save mankind from itself—and part charlatan—a slick businessman dragging foolish investors along on ever grander, cash-burning bets. Every time one of his companies stumbles, Musk seems to have another spectacular thing to announce—a new mode of transportation, the space internet, or a Martian colony—to thrill and confuse. Is Musk trying to distract us from the troubling aspects of his companies, or are the doubters just the shortsighted, risk-averse people holding us all back from a fantastic future?
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Patrick Foulis joins host Simon Long to take a look at the financial gymnastics keeping Elon Musk’s business empire afloat. Also: the shadow economies that need a fuse of transparency and private equity’s socialist secret
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Elon Musk didn’t become a billionaire without brass, and this week he floated one of his most outrageous bets: an offer by his taxpayer-subsidized Tesla Motors to buy his taxpayer-subsidized SolarCity. Tesla shareholders and Wall Street analysts are howling, but didn’t they always know they were buying a business model that depended on the kindness of politicians?
The electric-car maker offered to acquire the solar panel company at a more than 20% premium over SolarCity’s previous share price in an all-stock transaction. “Tesla customers can drive clean cars and they can use our battery packs to help consume energy more efficiently,” the company said in a blog post, “but they still need access to the most sustainable energy source that’s available: the sun.”
The ostensible plan is to set up a one-stop shop so folks buying $85,000 Teslas don’t have to walk across the street to buy solar panels, among other “synergies.” Mr. Musk predicted, with his typically modest ambition, that the merger will lead to a Tesla valuation of $1 trillion, or about 34 times what it was Wednesday.
He may need one of his SpaceX rockets to get there. Tesla shares fell 10% Wednesday, or more than the $2.8 billion value of SolarCity, as investors asked why one money-losing company would be better off buying another money-losing company. SolarCity was once a darling of the green energy set, but its shares have fallen more than 50% in the past year as its political advantage ebbs.
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