Elon Musk will save the world!

Well, the ones that don’t blow up on the launchpad, anyway.

SpaceX has one of the most reliable launchers in the business. Any implication otherwise is ignorant. Virtually no one has an absolutely spotless record.

You could have punched that up a bit more. Elon Musk needs to end his reign of terror!

Well, if it bothers you that much, you could seize the means of production and distribute their profits instead.

Something I’m concerned about is that part of the campaign by these wannabee Delos Harrimans seems to be an effort to discredit government space programs. I’m worried that they will sell this idea to the public. And then if Musk and Bezos and Branson will get bored with space and move on to something new, we’ll still be stuck with the public perception that NASA and other government space agencies are big boondoggles that would be better off shut down.

In a way though, you should be hoping for that–at least in the case of Musk. SpaceX isn’t going away either way, but Musk’s obsession with Mars damages their credibility a tad. If Musk got bored and walked away (or died, or whatever), SpaceX would still be a reliable, low-cost launch service. NASA would get the benefits of their relationship without the current downsides. SpaceX would also be less of a distraction, and at least some of the space enthusiasm currently directed at SpaceX would go back to NASA.

I’ve felt bad for NASA, and a bit annoyed at times, during joint press conferences with NASA and SpaceX. A huge fraction of the questions and attention end up directed at SpaceX even though they’re just the launch provider. People ask questions about Starship, etc. during conferences that aren’t about that at all. Space enthusiasm isn’t a zero-sum game of course, but I do often wish that SpaceX would steal a bit less of the spotlight (whether intentional or not, I think it’s gotten better recently, with Musk not attending the press conferences).

Remarkable a success as the Falcon 9 rocket has been, Starship really is the next level.

For quite a number of decades, space visionaries pointed out that to really make spaceflight cheap enough to be comparable to air freight, you needed two things: First, rockets that were designed for minimum real-world cost using off-the-shelf production methods rather than rockets that tripled their cost to achieve modest increases in payload. Second, and as a corollary of the first, to simply make them big enough to achieve economy of scale. What was called the “big dumb booster” concept. But the military/aerospace model of using adapted ICBMs was locked in and there was no institutional interest in changing things.

Then Musk and SpaceX came along. Musk calculated that to put Starlink in orbit it would actually be cheaper to develop and launch his own rockets than to pay what commercial launchers were then charging. Plus, the Falcon 9 has been a test bed for the more advanced Starship. SpaceX built the in-house infrastructure and knowledge base to develop reusable rockets. Full reusability really requires the scale that Starship is being planned on, and if it works it will revolutionize space launch.

I hope Tesla solar makes solar roofs better, prettier and easier but it’s taking a lot longer than I hoped.

Tesla cars are a lovely thing and are helping, though perhaps too late to save the world.

Me too. That said, I haven’t seen a whole lot of evidence that Tesla is taking the business seriously, and no one else is really pursuing the whole ‘flexible solar tile’ business. It may just be beyond our current capability to do it in a cost-effective way. We may be stuck with rigid panels for a while yet.

The flexible solar panels are hitting the market now. The are less efficient than the traditional panels but the idea is that they replace the current roofing rather that being framed on top of the roofing. So the cost for new houses will be relatively low.

While you wait you can buy this style for your van, trailer or boat.