Elon Musk became a billionaire through the sale of PayPal, but continued to challenge what he could do for the sustainable future of mankind. Right now, his most commonly known ventures are his investment in eco-friendly industries and the space industry, though he has had other ventures which were less profitable. By thinking outside of the box, Elon Musk has created ‘Tesla’, a high-performance electric car that challenged the previous image of cars. Elon Musk also founded ‘SpaceX’, a space manufacture and transportation service company with the goal of sending people to Mars. What kinds of technology has Musk applied to his two well-known, future-oriented businesses?
In electric vehicles, the battery is one of the most important parts. This is because mileage and maximum output power are determined by battery capacity or voltage. Previously, dedicated lithium-ion batteries were used in electric vehicles. Tesla improved upon this idea by tying thousands of small lithium-ion batteries together to make up a single giant car battery to lower battery prices, which accounted for more than 50 percent of the cost of electric cars. The small lithium-ion battery has already been used in laptops for decades and has been recognized for its stability and affordability. Recently, Tesla has started planning to develop and produce batteries that have higher energy density.
Tesla electric vehicles run differentiated software. Vehicles can change exterior parts of a car only through dedicated software updates within the operating system. For example, on October 20th, Tesla conducted a beta test of a full self driving (FSD) software update for drivers. The drivers who receive this update will have a car with FSD capability just by updating the software, no need to buy a new car. It is possible for Tesla owners to enjoy these softwares services thanks to the high-performance computers and integrated operating systems installed in Tesla electric vehicles.
At the end of May 2020, ‘Crew Dragon’ was the first private spacecraft to take humans to the International Space Station (ISS), showing new possibilities for travel in space. Crew Dragon uses liquid fuel, rather than solid fuel used by existing NASA spacecraft, to control the amount of fuel ignited depending on the situation, so it has good fuel efficiency. The spacecraft was operated with a three-screen control panel, and autonomously docked with the ISS. It also has a reusable rocket launching system.
Then on August 5, 2020, the Starship spacecraft launched, flew to an altitude of 65000 feet, and came back to a safe landing. The hope is that the Starship will be used as a vehicle to send people to Mars in the future.
Recently, in late October, the satellite Internet business ‘StarLink’ opened to help raise the capital necessary for future projects. The StarLink satellite system orbits much closer than existing satellites in geostationary orbit. This low orbit helps contribute to its competitive internet speed which is around 100 megabits faster than internet speeds available to the average internet user. SpaceX has opened Starlink satellite internet to public beta testers. Testers pay $499 for the Starlink ground equipment, then $99 per month for service.
Many criticized Elon Musk's electric vehicles business as being a vanity project in the early days of Tesla. Now Tesla’s computerized cars have revolutionized technology in the auto industry. Similarly, there has been criticism of SpaceX as a kind of unachievable science fiction project, but many believe that Elon Musk will open a new era of space flight.
By Seo Hyo-bin cub-reporter email@example.com
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