All posts in “Elon Musk”

Watch SpaceX launch NASA’s latest exoplanet-hunting satellite

SpaceX is set to launch a Falcon 9 rocket today during a 30 second window at 6:32pm EDT. Onboard is NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) designed to find exoplanets. SpaceX said this morning there’s an 80 percent chance of launching today. Following the launch, SpaceX will attempt to recover the Falcon 9 rocket and nose cone by landing the rocket on a drone ship and using parachutes to slow down fairings before they hit Atlantic. SpaceX’s high-speed net boat Mr. Stevens is still in the Pacific.

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The livestream is set to begin at 6:00pm EDT.

The satellite onboard uses four cameras to hunt for exoplanets around stars. They measure tiny dips in a star’s brightness that could indicate a planetary body passing in front of the camera’s line of sight. This is called a transit. Mission officials have said that this satellite will likely find thousands of worlds during its two-year mission.

The Falcon 9 used in today’s mission has never been launched before though if it lands successfully, it will be reportedly used in a future mission. This rocket is also the final block 4 version before Tesla starts using block 5 versions with upgraded engines and improvements to increase the reusability of the rocket.

Tesla updates user interface, web browser in older Model S and Model X vehicles

A new update is bringing an improved user interface to older Tesla vehicles. According to this report citing forum users, the v8.1 (2018.12) update improves the speed and capability in Model S and Model X vehicles equipped with an Nvidia Tegra 3-powered MCU. This was expected; Musk stated in late December 2017 that Tesla was working to improve the browser for all its vehicles.

Users discovered the browser speed is dramatically faster, able to download at an average of over 5 Mbps. HTML5 capabilities also improved. This is just the latest in Tesla’s on-going mission to improve its vehicles after customers buy them.

Tesla launched the Model S with the Tegra 3 SoC and ran with it until late 2017 when the company switched to new x86_64-powered MCUs. Last month Elon Musk confirmed through Twitter that it was possible to retrofit older vehicles with new MCUs.

Though possible to upgrade older vehicles, it’s better for the consumer, and likely for the company, to upgrade existing hardware than make drivers bring in vehicles for a hardware upgrade.

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Elon Musk’s latest SpaceX idea involves a party balloon and bounce house

Elon Musk took to Twitter Sunday night to announce a new recovery method for an upper stage SpaceX rocket. A balloon — a “giant party balloon” to quote him directly — will ferry part of a rocket to a bounce house. Seriously.

If anyone else proposed this idea they would be ignored, but Elon Musk lately has a way of turning crazy ideas into reality.

It was just in 2012 that SpaceX launched and landed its first rocket and now the company is doing it with rockets significantly larger. And then early this year SpaceX made a surprise announcement that it would attempt to use a high-speed boat and large net to catch part of rocket. And it worked after a failed first attempt.

This isn’t the first time a balloon has tried to be used to return a rocket. Legendary programmer John Carmack’s rocket company attempted to use a ballute in 2012 to return a rocket body and nose cone. It didn’t work as planned and according to officials at the time, the rocket made a “hard landing” around the Spaceport America property in New Mexico.

Just like SpaceX’s self-landing rockets and its giant net boat, the goal is to reduce the cost of launching rockets by reusing parts. It’s unclear when this latest plan will be implemented but chances are SpaceX will at least attempt it in the coming future.

How Elon Musk is fixing Tesla Model 3 production problems: More humans

OK sure.
OK sure.

Image: Bill Pugliano/Getty

After Tesla failed to hit its goal of producing 2,500 Model 3 electric cars a week, CEO Elon Musk says he’s figured out what went wrong: robots.

Yes, robots, which are designed to help build lots and lots of Tesla’s electric vehicle at an insane speed, are to blame for why customers who pre-ordered the Model 3 still haven’t gotten them yet.

In an interview with CBS Good Morning, Musk said the Model 3 is in “production hell” because Tesla used too many robots. 

“It’s worse than I thought,” Musk said. “We have this crazy complex network of conveyor belts and it was not working so we got rid of that whole thing.”

When asked if using more humans instead of robots would help speed up production, Musk told CBS that it would and that they need more humans working on the assembly lines.

Earlier this month, Musk made the bold decision to personally fix the Model 3 bottlenecks by getting his hands dirty on the factory floor. 

He tweeted about how he had gone “back to sleeping at the factory” and CBS confirmed his surprisingly ordinary sleeping situation as nothing more than a narrow and uncomfortable couch and a sleeping bag in a conference room. Yep, Musk the billionaire, is spending his nights in a sleeping bag at the office.

“We got complacent about some of the things that we thought were our core technology. We put too much new technology into the Model 3 all at once.”

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“Excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake,” Musk reiterated on Twitter. “To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated.”

You’re damn right humans are underrated. Humans > robots. Of course, this shouldn’t surprise anyone who follows Musk.

Despite using more technology to further his endless ambitions, including electricity-powered vehicles, landing reusable rockets, sending Teslas into deep space, helping solve traffic jams with the Hyperloop, selling Boring baseball caps, and flamethrowers, Musk has cautioned against over-relying on technology before.

Musk has said AI, if abused or developed incorrectly, could be the downfall of humanity. He’s even gone as far as saying AI could trigger World War III.

It’s ironic then that over-using technology – robots and automation in this case – is what screwed up the Model 3’s production. If Musk has learned anything after this, it’s that he should start applying his life philosophy to his work sooner rather than later.

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Elon Musk says Tesla will be profitable in Q3 and Q4

Tesla is one of the more interesting companies for Wall Street that had an interesting couple of months this year — and it seems even tweets from Elon Musk, who said that the company will be profitable in the back half of the year, may be enough to swing its stock.

The Tesla and SpaceX founder sent a tweet very early this morning that the company would be profitable and cash-flow positive in the third and fourth quarter this year. Tesla is known for setting ambitious targets and forecasts, especially as it looks to ramp up Model 3 production to around 2,500 vehicles per week. Musk said he took direct control of Model 3 production earlier this month in a note to employees, also sent out at around 3 a.m. pacific time. Tesla’s shares were up slightly, gaining around 2% in trading today.

Tesla saw a small bump in its stock throughout the day. While it could be for a variety of reasons, Musk’s data point may have offered a small amount of clarity (and optimism) around whether the company will be able to eventually turn a profit. The tweet was fired off as a response to a story by The Economist that said the company may have to raise additional capital at some point, according to banking firm Jeffries. (It was also quite snarky.)

On Tesla’s last call to discuss the company’s quarterly results with Wall Street analysts, Musk said that the company would begin generating “positive quarterly operating income on a sustained basis,” and said he was “cautiously optimistic” that the company would be GAAP profitable. Musk said the company wanted to hit a production target of 5,000 Model 3 vehicles per week at some point in 2018, though did not give a specific time frame. The tweet, while fired off as a response to a story by The Economist, appears to offer another small data point as to when it might happen.

Earlier this month, Tesla fell back behind Ford in terms of its market cap as some pressure has hit the stock. Tesla has had to address a fatal crash involving its autopilot, in addition to a voluntary recall of 123,000 Model S vehicles. There is some skepticism around whether Tesla will hit its production targets from Wall Street (making cars is hard, it seems).