Good Elon vs. Bad Russia: The Gap Widens

SpaceX’s persistence and ingenuity, and its success in bringing down costs by reusing rockets, made it the likely market leader last year and possibly even profitable. The Falcon 9 was certainly the most successfully launched rocket in the world.
Bloomberg via Spaceflight

In “Good Elon, Bad Elon: A Tale of Two Elons,” we looked at Elon Musk’s highly profitable and likely successful trajectory into space (SpaceX) vs. some of his other more questionable and money-bleeding enterprises such as Tesla.

As you can see in the graph above and the video below, “Good Elon” has really been coming through recently, making Russia’s fading space program look almost like a collaboration between Homer Simpson and Beavis and Butthead.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk now has the most capable missile in the world: It can deliver up to 64 tons into orbit. Russia’s plans to build such a rocket, capable of flying to the Moon or to Mars, aren’t even complete yet, and certainly not fully funded, though Igor Komarov, head of Roskosmos, the Russian space agency, has promised a first launch in 2028…

Roskosmos has acknowledged the SpaceX threat, which it spent years pooh-poohing, and is working to reduce launch costs by 20 percent and reuse rocket components. But Musk’s company is ahead of the game for now, and it won’t be easy to catch. __

SpaceX’s trajectory is steeply upward, while Russia’s multiple crises of education, demographics, misappropriation of funding, and super-sized military adventurism are all leading to a very bad place.

SpaceX Emerges as Global Game Changer

Suddenly the idea of building large new space stations, large new satellite systems for universal broadband internet, and regular journeys to other planets such as Mars and Luna, are beginning to sound credible.

SpaceX is rapidly changing what is possible in space. Instead of taking 40 launches over a decade to build the 400-ton space station, we could have 1000 launches in a year from ten fully reusable SpaceX BFRs that would place 150,000 tons into space. The 1000 SpaceX BFR launches would cost $10 billion versus $40 billion for the space shuttle launches of the International space station. ___

Making heavy-payload launches routine and reliable — not to mention affordable — changes the entire scheme of human involvement in outer space.

The SpaceX Falcon Heavy is like a DC-10 aircraft and SpaceX will make it 80-90% reusable with 64 tons of payload. The SpaceX BFR will be 100% reusable and will be like a 747 with 150 tons of payload. __

All because “Good Elon” had a dream.

Bad Elon Tries to Spoil the Celebration

Elon borrowed heavily out of his SpaceX portfolio to leverage financing for Tesla. We told Elon three two years ago not to do that. He didn’t listen.

“Bad Elon” is much like “Bad Russia” in this regard, throwing good money after bad, squandering crucial capital on poorly conceived ventures.

The day after Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk blasted his Tesla Roadster into space, his electric car company’s mounting losses brought him back to Earth again.

Tesla Inc. posted a record quarterly net loss of $675 million in the fourth quarter, up from a net loss of $121 million in the same period a year ago. The Palo Alto, California-based automaker is struggling to meet production targets for its first mass-market car, the Model 3 sedan. It’s also spending heavily on future vehicles, including a semi that’s supposed to go into production next year.

Tesla lost $1.96 billion for the full year, a record for the company and nearly three times its loss of $675 million in 2016. Tesla has never made a full-year profit since it went public in 2010. __ WUWT from Source

An abundant and expansive human future requires humans to move into space, to build out a large infrastructure for exploration, science, human colonies, and space resource utilisation. But even more importantly, humans need to have big dreams and big goals. SpaceX helps to create and build big dreams.

On the flip side, Musk’s other enterprises that squander massive funding, both public and private, to no rational purpose other than groupthink virtue signaling — reveal a deep weakness in the man’s mental foundations and perhaps even his character.

Thanks for All the Fish

It was great watching the Tesla roadster soaring high above Earth’s sparkling blue ocean on its way to Mars orbit, but Elon had best not destroy SpaceX’s potential trying to support another of his companies that is not ready for prime time.

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5 Responses to Good Elon vs. Bad Russia: The Gap Widens

  1. Jim says:

    Human colonization of Antartica would make a lot more sense than attempts at human colonization of Mars. In comparison to Mars, Siberia is the Garden of Eden.

    • alfin2101 says:

      Yes, I suspect the Chinese are keeping their eyes on Siberia as such a prize. China will gladly help Putin stay in power if Putin keeps signing over Russian resources in this slow motion de facto takeover of the Far East and other chunks of Siberia.

      If Antarctica were not so far away from everything, competition over that space and those resources might be far more heated than at present.

      I agree that a “hail Mary” project to build Mars colonies is a bad idea. A much better bridge to human-occupied space is the so-called cis-lunar space concept. That approach builds solid infrastructural foundations as humans move further and further outward. It is a much sounder economic approach.

  2. Jim says:

    The world’s population today is increasing at about 1% per year which is roughly about a hundred times faster than the average over the evolutionary history of humanity. If that rate continues indefinitely the mass of the world’s population in 3,000 years will equal the mass of the Earth. Obviously that’s not going to happen. World population growth must slow to essentially zero in a future time which is very short compared to the evolutionary history of the human species. Trying to establish human populations on Mars would have a trivial effect on the overpopulation problem.

    • alfin2101 says:

      Your point is true, obvious, and really not the point. The universe looks quite different when viewed from a different perspective. The more perspectives, the more viewpoints to consider. The more points of exploration and scientific study, the more that can be learned, invented, and assimilated into the human enterprise. Similarly, keeping all your eggs in one basket can lead to a catastrophic breaking of all of your eggs. In addition, sometimes “you can’t get there from here.” So you have to start somewhere else.

      The arguments in favour of human exploration and colonisation of outer space to the limits of human ability — then stretching those abilities and moving on from there — are too numerous to list here.

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