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Space

SpaceX Releases Video of Falcon Rocket's Splashdown 49

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the future-actually-happening dept.
First time accepted submitter cowdung (702933) writes In spite of Elon Musk's characterization of the landing as a KABOOM event. Judging by this video SpaceX has managed to land the first stage rocket booster nicely on the ocean after their Orbcomm launch on July 14th. It seems we're one step closer to a landing on dry land. Both this and the previous landing seem to have gone well. Hopefully the next landing test camera has something to deice the camera lens.
Businesses

California In the Running For Tesla Gigafactory 172

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-you-build-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes Thanks to some clean-energy tax incentives approved late this spring, California appears to be in the running again for Tesla's "Gigafactory". From the article: "The decision should have been made by now, and ground broken, according to the company's timeline, but is on hold, allowing California, which was not in the race initially — CEO Elon Musk has called California an improbable choice, citing regulations — to throw its hat in the ring. 'In terms of viability, California has progressed. Now it's a four-plus-one race,' said Simon Sproule, Tesla's vice president of global communication and marketing, referring to the four named finalists — Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada — for the prize. That's heartening. Having the Gigafactory would be a vindication of Gov. Jerry Brown's drive to make California the home of advanced manufacturing, of which Tesla's battery technology is a prime example. With its technology, 'Tesla may be in position to disrupt industries well beyond the realm of traditional auto manufacturing. It's not just cars,' a Morgan Stanley analyst told Quartz, an online business publication last year.
Transportation

The First Person Ever To Die In a Tesla Is a Guy Who Stole One 443

Posted by Soulskill
from the marketed-as-a-thief-termination-feature dept.
mrspoonsi sends this news from The Verge: Elon Musk can no longer say that no one's ever died in a Tesla automobile crash. But few people will be pointing fingers at the electric car maker for this senseless tragedy. Earlier this month, 26-year-old Joshua Slot managed to successfully ride off with a Model S he'd stolen from a Tesla service center in Los Angeles, but police quickly spotted the luxury vehicle and gave chase. According to Park Labrea News, the high-speed pursuit was eventually called off after officers were involved in a fender bender of their own, leaving the police department strained for resources and without any feasible way of catching up to Slot. Reports claim he was traveling at speeds of "nearly 100 mph," but losing the police tail apparently didn't convince Slot to hit the brakes. Instead he sped on, eventually colliding with three other vehicles and a pair of street poles. The final impact was severe enough to "split the Tesla in half" and eject Slot from the car's remains. The Tesla's front section wound up in the middle of the road and caught fire. Its rear portion flew through the air with such force that it slammed into the side of a local Jewish community center and became wedged there.
The Almighty Buck

The Oatmeal Convinces Elon Musk To Donate $1 Million To Tesla Museum 78

Posted by timothy
from the carreon-should-donate-too dept.
Ars Technica notes (as does Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman) that Elon Musk has agreed to donate $1 million towards the restoration of Nikola Tesla's old lab as a museum, a project that Inman has been pushing for some time now. And if you happen to get there in a Tesla, you're in luck: Musk is also planning to install one of his company's superchargers in the parking lot. (At the other end of the east coast, you can visit a very different kind of Tesla museum.)
Mars

Elon Musk: I'll Put a Human On Mars By 2026 275

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-to-mars dept.
An anonymous reader writes Elon Musk says that he'll put the first human boots on Mars well before the 2020s are over. "I'm hopeful that the first people could be taken to Mars in 10 to 12 years, I think it's certainly possible for that to occur," he said. "But the thing that matters long term is to have a self-sustaining city on Mars, to make life multiplanetary." He acknowledged that the company's plans were too long-term to attract many hedge fund managers, which makes it hard for SpaceX to go public anytime soon. "We need to get where things a steady and predictable," Musk said. "Maybe we're close to developing the Mars vehicle, or ideally we've flown it a few times, then I think going public would make more sense."
Power

Elon Musk's Solar City Is Ramping Up Solar Panel Production 262

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
MarkWhittington writes: Elon Musk is well known as a private space flight entrepreneur, thanks to his space launch company SpaceX. He is also a purveyor of high end electric cars manufactured by his other company, Tesla Motors. But many people do not know that Musk has a third business, Solar City, which is a manufacturer of solar panels. On Tuesday that company announced a major play to increase the output of solar panels suitable for home solar units. Solar City has acquired a company called Silevo, which is said to have a line of solar panels that have demonstrated high electricity output and low cost. Silevo claims that its panels have achieved a 22 percent efficiency and are well on their way to achieving 24 percent efficiency. It suggests that 10 cents per watt is saved for every point of efficiency gained. Solar City, using the technology it has acquired from Silevo, intends to build a manufacturing plant in upstate New York with a one gigawatt per year capacity. This will only be the beginning as it intends to build future manufacturing plants with orders of magnitude capacity. The goal appears to be for the company to become the biggest manufacturer of solar panels in the world.
Transportation

BMW, Mazda Keen To Meet With Tesla About Charging Technology 137

Posted by timothy
from the let's-talk-about-supercharger-deserts dept.
PC Magazine reports that following Elon Musk's announcement that Tesla would be freeing for other electric car makers to use the various patents that the company has amassed, at least two companies — Mazda and BMW — are said to be interested in meeting with Tesla, for a very good reason: According to undisclosed sources speaking to the Financial Times, both Nissan and BMW would be interested in working with Tesla to craft up some universal vehicle charging standards. To quote unnamed official: "It is obviously clear that everyone would benefit if there was a far more simple way for everyone to charge their cars."
Patents

Tesla Releases Electric Car Patents To the Public 211

Posted by timothy
from the your-good-news-of-the-day dept.
mknewman (557587) writes with a welcome followup to the broad hints that Tesla might release some of its patents for others to use patents that it has amassed. Now, Elon Musk writes on the company's blog: Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology. Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.
Patents

Musk Will Open Up Tesla Supercharger Patents To Spur Development 230

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-you-go dept.
redletterdave (2493036) writes "Elon Musk has said repeatedly he wants to 'do something controversial' with Tesla's collection of electric car patents, but he finally offered specifics at the UK launch of his Tesla Model S on Sunday. The Tesla Motors CEO said he would like to open up the designs for his Supercharger systems — the free fast-charging stations designed to quickly refuel Tesla's electric cars — to create a standard for other car makers to use. Musk previously said he didn't want Superchargers to become a 'walled garden.'"
Transportation

Tesla Makes Improvements To Model S 136

Posted by samzenpus
from the better-and-better dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In a lull between product launches Tesla intends to keep making improvements to the Model S according to Elon Musk. Tesla will automatically push software to the Model S fleet that will help the car learn the driver's habits and the navigation system will offer directions to avoid traffic jams. 'This year, Tesla is offering only the single model, the Model S that is EPA rated at up to 265 miles on a single charge, the most of any electric car. The company's next model won't come until next year, when the delayed Model X crossover goes on sale. Musk says the holdup has centered on making sure its signature design element, gullwing doors to make it easier to get in the rear, works properly and is leak-proof. "Getting the door right is extremely difficult," he says.'"
Space

Aspiring Astronaut Gideon Gidori Invents a New Holiday: Star Day (Video) 46

Posted by Roblimo
from the it's-easier-to-make-a-wish-than-to-make-it-come-true dept.
Gideon wants to be an astronaut. You could even describe him as "space-obsessed." He wants to be the first astronaut from Tanzania. The only African to make it into space so far is Mark Shuttleworth, who is from South Africa. Can Gideon talk Elon Musk into launching from Tanzania, which is directly on the equator? How about bringing in other space buffs and entrepreneurs? Don't think this is a silly idea. Gideon is only 14, but he's a straight-A student at the Florida Air Academy, and before that was one of the top students at Shepherds Junior School in Arusha, which Mama Lucy Kamptoni originally financed by raising and selling chickens. Gideon's scholarships to Shepherds and later to Florida Air Academy have been financed in part by EpicChange.org, which is also helping him spread the word about Star Day (tomorrow; June 7), the holiday Gideon created, which is being celebrated all over the world even in this, its first year of existence. You can celebrate it, too. All you have to do, weather permitting, is sleep outdoors under the stars, and maybe make a wish or two. After all, wishing (and a lot of studying and hard work) have helped Gideon get to where he is today, and may yet help him become Tanzania's first astronaut.
NASA

SpaceX To Present Manned Dragon Capsule 128

Posted by timothy
from the calling-shotgun dept.
camperdave (969942) writes "SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is set to unveil the Dragon V2 at a media event from Hawthorne, California, tonight at 7 pm. Pacific. The 'Dragon V2' is an upgraded, man rated version of the unmanned spaceship that has made several successful cargo trips to the International Space Station. The new craft will carry a mix of cargo and up to a seven crewmembers to the ISS. According to Musk, this is 'Actual flight design hardware of crew Dragon, not a mockup.' Following the space shuttle's forced retirement in 2011, US astronauts have been totally dependent on the Russian Soyuz capsules for ferry rides to orbit and back. The crisis in Ukraine, which has resulted in some U.S. economic sanctions imposed against Russia, also has the potential to threaten U.S. access to the ISS as the Russian government considers reciprocal sanctions of its own. 'Sounds like this might be a good time to unveil the new Dragon Mk 2 spaceship that @SpaceX has been working on with @NASA,' Musk tweeted. SpaceX is one of three commercial space companies competing for funding from NASA's Commercial Crew Transportation Capability program." (You can watch the event as a webcast.)
Transportation

Should Tesla Make Batteries Instead of Electric Cars? 362

Posted by Soulskill
from the batteries-aren't-as-fun-to-drive dept.
cartechboy writes: "Tesla seems to be doing quite well these days, but one bond trader thinks the company should quit making electric cars and focus efforts on making batteries instead. Bond manager Jeffrey Gundlach says he's already tried to meet with Elon Musk to persuade him to take the battery-only route. Speaking to Bloomberg, he said Tesla could be 'wildly transformational' in the same way electricity and electromagnets were at the advent of their discovery. Enough people are interested in Tesla's vehicles that Musk probably won't take Gundlach's advice. Should he?"
The Almighty Buck

Tesla Logged $713 Million In Revenue In Q1 and Built 7,535 Cars 131

Posted by samzenpus
from the numbers-are-in dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Tesla just announced its first-quarter earnings and the numbers are interesting. It logged revenue of $713 million on deliveries of 6,457 Model S electric cars. It's worth noting that's basically the number of vehicles it said it would sell in the quarter, but that number is slightly down from the prior quarter. It built a total of 7,535 Model S cars in the quarter as it built inventory as shipments began to China where sales just started last month. Net orders in North America grew 10 percent, and production for the second quarter is expected to increase to 8,500-9,000 Model S cars. Tesla expects to deliver 35,000 cars during the 2014 calendar year. Musk told analysts that China's enthusiastic and that government support is crucial. The Model X is delayed until spring of 2015 with production-design prototypes being ready in the fourth quarter. Tesla hopes to possibly break ground as early as next month on its gigafactory, though the location has yet to be announced. Of course, the stock market is already reacting to these numbers and is currently down nearly 3 percent in after hours trading."
Space

SpaceX Files Suit Against US Air Force 176

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
Today Elon Musk announced that SpaceX has decided to challenge the U.S. Air Force's restrictions on rocket launches related to national security. Such launches are done with a Russian rocket right now, and that contract is not up for competition with other rocket makers, like SpaceX. Musk says the company has exhausted other options to become part of the bidding process. "We're just protesting and saying these launches should be competed. And if we compete and lose, that's fine, but why were they not even competed?" He also said it's the "wrong time to send hundreds of millions of dollars to the Kremlin," referencing events in the Ukraine.

At the same press conference, Musk announced that SpaceX's recent attempt to soft-land a rocket booster stage was successful. It landed and was in "healthy condition" immediately afterward. Unfortunately, they weren't able to recover it because it landed in the middle of a rough storm, which eventually destroyed the stage. The storm was rough enough that the Coast Guard wouldn't even send a boat out to help recover it. Musk said, "We'll get much bigger boats next time." SpaceX also plans on landing the stage on shore at some point, which makes recovery easier. Musk made this prediction: "I expect we will be able to land a stage back at Cape Canaveral by the end of the year."
Transportation

Tesla Model S Gets Titanium Underbody Shield, Aluminum Deflector Plates 314

Posted by Soulskill
from the responding-to-a-challenge dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Tesla Motors made headlines several times last year for a few Model S car fires. Elon Musk criticized all the attention at the time, pointing out that it was disproportionate to the 200,000 fires in gas-powered cars over the same period. Musk didn't stop there, though. He's announced that the Model S will now have a titanium underbody shield along with an aluminum bar and extrusion. He says this will prevent debris struck on the road from breaching the battery area. Musk offered this amusing example: 'We believe these changes will also help prevent a fire resulting from an extremely high speed impact that tears the wheels off the car, like the other Model S impact fire, which occurred last year in Mexico. This happened after the vehicle impacted a roundabout at 110 mph, shearing off 15 feet of concrete curbwall and tearing off the left front wheel, then smashing through an eight foot tall buttressed concrete wall on the other side of the road and tearing off the right front wheel, before crashing into a tree. The driver stepped out and walked away with no permanent injuries and a fire, again limited to the front section of the vehicle, started several minutes later. The underbody shields will help prevent a fire even in such a scenario.' Included with the article are several animated pictures of testing done with the new underbody, which survives running over a trailer hitch, a concrete block, and an alternator."
Television

College Grads Create Fake Tesla Commercial That Elon Musk Loves 100

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-resume dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Two University of Southern California grads were looking to start a digital content company so they decided to roll the dice and create a home-made (but incredibly professional looking) television commercial for Tesla — just to see if they could get some attention for it. Well, apparently, mission accomplished. R.J. Collins and James Khabushani took $1,500 and created a 60-second Tesla 'faux-mercial' dubbed 'Modern Spaceship' that is well, pretty good. Elon Musk noticed, tweeted it and has helped the thing go viral."
Transportation

Lit Motors, Danny Kim, and Changing How Americans Drive 144

Posted by timothy
from the soma-isn't-just-a-ritual-drink dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "In early March, Lit Motors founder Danny Kim hit the road to meet investors. The Portland native needed to keep the momentum growing for his small firm, which builds the two-wheeled C-1. His modest lab, located in San Francisco's SoMa neighborhood, could accommodate another 12 employees—but he needed the money to fund them, and to build a manufacturing facility that could turn his prototype ideas into a reality. Like Elon Musk and other manufacturing savants, Kim is someone who enjoys the challenge of building things—whether it's eyeglasses, chairs, or motor vehicles from scratch. He's spent the past five years re-thinking modern transportation, and using those insights to design prototypes of two-wheeled, motor-driven vehicles that can self-balance with a dancer's grace, thanks to an integrated software platform and a patented gyroscopic system. In a wide-ranging conversation with Slashdot, Kim discussed his plans for manufacturing the C-1, as well as the challenges in convincing consumers to try out a new kind of vehicle. "Seventy-two percent of commuters drive alone, so it just made sense to cut the car in half," he said, explaining the decision to go with two wheels instead of four. 'You have to think about this two-wheeled car as a robot because of its stability. It purely uses our AI/stability algorithm so it can balance and you don't have to. We had to develop our own firmware for our own dynamic system. It is code heavy.'"
The Almighty Buck

Silicon Valley Billionaire Takes Out $201 Million Life Insurance Policy 300

Posted by samzenpus
from the things-you-want-to-keep-to-yourself dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The Mercury News reports that somewhere in Silicon Valley, a 'mystery billionaire' has bought what the Guinness Book of World Records says is the most valuable life insurance policy in history — a policy that will pay his survivors a cool $201 million. Was it Larry Ellison? Eric Schmidt? Elon Musk? Zuck? Nobody knows because the name of the buyer is a closely guarded secret. 'We don't want hit men running around Palo Alto trying to find him — or members of his own estate,' joked Dovi Frances, the Southern California financial services provider who sold the policy. By last count, California boasts 111 billionaires with more than a third of them in tech, while San Francisco has 20 billionaires alone so it could be any of them. But why does a billionaire even need to take out life insurance when he or she has so many other assets. The most likely answer to this question is taxes and estate planning.

Upon death, an estate would be liable to pay off loans on any leveraged properties, plus a lot of money as part of the death taxes owed. This could force the estate to liquidate holdings to raise the money to pay off these liabilities even if it weren't the most opportune time to sell the assets. By taking out the life insurance policy, it would give the estate more flexibility in paying off the taxes and other debts owed, without necessarily having to sell assets to do so. 'In California, there are state death taxes that are exceptionally high (45 percent),' says Frances adding that the policy is actually a combination of more than two dozen policies, underwritten by 19 different insurers because if any single company had to pay out such a lavish benefit, it could be crippling. 'If your properties are leveraged then those loans are called immediately and need to be paid off, you want to hedge yourself against such a risk so [your beneficiary] can receive the proceeds without being exposed to taxes.'"

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