Let's take this holiday season to review the maximally-weird thing in the world: obvious-alien Elon Musk.
- It's pretty clear he's just trying to get home. For all the joy of giant rockets, Elon is not the world's most compelling public speaker so you might prefer the paper version of the "Making Life Multiplanetary" presentation from IAC this year.
- Of course, before the BFR (don't let anyone tell you the F stands for "Falcon" btw) can launch, SpaceX needs their Most Kerbal launch vehicle, the Falcon Heavy, to work. It's no longer six months away and now actually exists as an integrated rocket.
- Does any of this fancy engineering actually save/make money? Morgan Stanley takes a crack at a DCF valuation.
- All this reuseable rocketry is looking mighty nice so it's good to see Washington taking a closer look at making use of that cheapness.
- If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, SpaceX should be pretty glad that China thinks they're on the right track.
- When the clone-Musk army gets to orbit we'll all as a species start caring a lot about who makes the laws in space?
- Of course LEO is the easy part, the months-long cruise in deep space to Mars is basically untrodden ground. Can the Muskerprise even contain enough Environmental Control and Life Support systems?
And once you're on Mars you have all sorts of problems. They mostly boil down to power, though. The obvious choice is solar since Elon knows a guy who owns a solar company that single-handedly moves the national solar installation rate 13%. But the prospects for space-based nuclear are looking up lately.
- You're going to have to store all that energy, so it's a good thing someone knows a thing or two about setting up lots of batteries quickly (though read the fine print). Nice thing about solid state systems: the word 'milliseconds'.
- Ok, not everything is Mars-related. What about the suggestion that Chicago might end up with a non-Hyper hyperloop?
- There was some controversy around Elon's feelings towards mass transit but maybe there's more to that story? Either way, would you trust a man who sells hats to build a transit system?
- Tesla launched the electric semi in a launch event that only the biggest logistics nerds would care about and then casually mentioned the fastest-accelerating production car in the world.
- Mind you, not everyone is totally sold on the value of the electric Semi.
- You may be thinking that spicing a 'boring' truck launch up with a 'shiny' sports car is just marketing but development in one is inexorably linked to development in the other. Electric motors are most efficient when they're barely working so the more efficient a motor gets in a truck context the more stupider it gets in max-power context. Science! I wouldn't be too surprised if the semi is just two roadsters bolted together.
- And to tie it all together, that fastest-accelerating roadster will accelerate much more slowly when it's strapped to the tip of a Falcon Heavy but end up creating the world speed record category for automobiles in spaaace.
- There's some confusion on the exact orbital parameters of the Roadster, most believe it'll be in a Solar orbit with roughly Martian parameters to demonstrate it could make it to Mars without actually having to do the paperwork or engineering to do something useful. New math has shown that if you lob something ahead of Mars juuust right and let Mars' gravity well pick it up, you can save 25% on a capture orbit so who knows. Whatever. Just look at this thing.
This concludes your Weekly Weird for 2017, we shall return in January. If the timeline of Weird-ness continues, I expect 2018 editions to feature ambulatory marshmallows enslaving us all for the greater glory of the S'more king, the introduction of self-driving sneakers, and militarized Oxford commas.