SpaceX has reportedly swapped a “suspect” Raptor engine installed on Starship serial number 10 (SN10) in record time, setting the company up for what appeared to be an excellent static fire just 48 hours after the first test.
In a February 24th tweet, CEO Elon Musk told followers that “one of [SN10’s three Raptor] engines is suspect, so we’re swapping it out.” Engine swap-outs have been a regular procedure for SpaceX’s Starship team as the company continually pushes the envelope of both Starship and Raptor prototype fidelity and implement major design changes and upgrades. Of the five Starship prototypes (including Starhopper) with intentional flights under their belts, all required at least one engine replacement before being cleared to launch.
Within ~18 hours of Tuesday’s “suspect” Starship SN10 static fire, SpaceX dispatched a replacement Raptor down the road from a nearby storage site. Within ~12 hours, the faulty engine had been removed and a backup engine installed in its place. Another ~12 hours after that, SpaceX teams cleared the launch pad for Starship SN10 to attempt a second static fire and (hopefully) qualify the rocket for flight.
Starship SN10 – set to be the sixth prototype to fly – is now part of that elite but buggy group of flightworthy test articles. For the most part, that bugginess is all according to plan: SpaceX’s ability to move and react with extreme speed is what allows the company to make such rapid progress and begin test flights as early in the development process as it does. That speed of action includes responding to the inevitable bugs that crop up while testing cutting-edge rocket prototypes.
Case in point, after Tuesday’s 5pm CST static fire, it took SpaceX less than 48 hours to pore through the test’s data, conclude that one of SN10’s three Raptor engines was “suspect,” select a replacement engine, remove the faulty engine, install that replacement, and fire up Starship SN10 a second time. Even SpaceX’s world-class reusable Falcon rockets would have a hard time challenging that engine swap turnaround. Taking a broader look at the lay of the land, NASA’s SLS rocket booster – outfitted with four former Space Shuttle engines – will reportedly require more than three weeks for teams to swap out a faulty valve in one of those four engines.
The first SLS Core Stage suffered an early abort during its first static fire test in mid January. As of publishing, NASA is now working towards a second static fire attempt in mid March – two full months later. By all appearances, SpaceX turned Starship SN10 around in 48 hours, performing what looked like a full-duration, nominal three-engine static fire on February 25th. Unlike February 23rd’s static fire, Starship exhibited no signs of an abort immediately after the test, whereas SN10 began large depressurization venting the second its Raptors shut down on Tuesday.
Unfortunately, everything will remain uncertain until SpaceX official confirms its plans, but Starship SN10 should be fully cleared for a launch attempt as early as Monday, March 1st if a data review of its Thursday static fire raises no red flags. Stay tuned for updates as SpaceX prepares to find out if the third time really is the charm.
The post SpaceX swaps “suspect” Starship engine in record time appeared first on TESLARATI.
Rivian adopts mobile service model for maximum convenience
Rivian Service promises to provide a proactive and personal approach to mobile vehicle service. Rivian seems to have developed an intricate mobile service model to make vehicle care more convenient for R1T and R1S owners.
Over-the-air updates will support Rivian’s mobile service model to optimize a vehicle’s performance continuously. Most of the over-the-air updates will take place at night, making it more convenient for owners.
The company’s mobile service will also be backed by Rivian Remote Care, enabling the company to perform comprehensive diagnostics from afar. With Rivian Remote Care, technicians can proactively identify most vehicle problems even before the owner notices them.
“We’re remotely diagnosing vehicles and pre-ordering parts if needed. By the time we arrive for your mobile service appointment, we’re ready to resolve your issue on the spots,” said Edwin, a Rivian Service technician.
Rivian will have a fleet of mobile service vans ready for deployment at any time. Rivian mobile technicians can attend to calls at an owner’s home, workplace, or anywhere service is needed within the United States and Canada. Rivian plans to expand its mobile services as it reaches other markets.
Rivian technicians will also bring vehicles that need extensive care to service centers and return them to owners afterward. The company will provide a loaner to owners while their cars are cared for at the service center. Rivian has not specified what vehicles will be used as loaners.
Rivian plans to open over 40 service centers in the United States and Canada soon. More service centers are planned for the future as Rivian grows. The company has also established a network of Rivian-owned and Rivian-certified collision centers for bodywork and exterior damages.
Rivian Service seems to go hand-in-hand with the company’s warranty coverage. Rivian’s warranty system is also quite intricate. It includes a Comprehensive Warranty, a Battery Warranty, a Drivetrain Warranty, and a Perforation Corrosion Warranty.
Lucid Motors, Rivian sued by Illinois car dealers for direct sales
Lucid Motors and Rivian were sued by the Illinois Automobile Dealers Association, the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, and some individual franchised auto dealerships in the state for selling vehicles directly to consumers.
The numerous plaintiffs are accusing both Rivian and Lucid of violating state laws that require new vehicles to be sold through franchised dealerships. The direct-to-consumer sales platform has become popular with electric car companies, especially Tesla who has never operated through dealerships. While each of the aforementioned automotive companies does have showrooms in operation to display their products, they do not have salespeople or sales managers who negotiate prices with customers. The costs are the same for everyone, a strategy that has alleviated a lot of stress from the car buying process.
In May 2019, the dealers, the Secretary of State, and Tesla entered an agreement that would consent to the automaker obtaining no more than 13 dealer licenses in Illinois. This allowed showrooms to sell vehicles to customers, but it only applies to Tesla and not to Lucid and Rivian.
“We have no choice but to file this lawsuit, both to protect consumers as well as the hundreds of franchised dealers across the state who contribute to the local economy,” Pete Sander, the Illinois Automobile Dealers Association President, said. Sander represents more than 700 auto dealers that operate over 2,300 franchises across the state.
The Illinois Vehicle Code and the Illinois Motor Vehicle Franchise Act were cited in the lawsuit. These mandate that all vehicle sales to the public “must be made through licensed and independent franchised” dealers.
Lucid operates out of California and has its main production facility in Arizona. The company recently opened a sales studio in Oak Brook, a suburb of Chicago that is home to several large corporations like Ace Hardware and Blistex. However, Rivian is based in Normal, Illinois, and the lawsuit seems to affect it more than Lucid simply because of the company’s base location.
The Illinois Attorney General’s office issued “an informal opinion” last summer that stated new automotive manufactures are not expressly required by law to establish franchised dealerships to sell their cars. This gives companies like Rivian and Lucid the opportunity to sell their products directly to customers unless the lawsuit filed by the numerous plaintiffs moves forward. A spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office said they would review the complaint when it comes to their office.
Elon Musk’s Starlink Beta meets opposition from India’s industry body
It appears that Starlink is facing a challenge in India, a country expected to receive coverage from the satellite internet system sometime next year.
The opposition against Starlink was initiated by the Broadband India Forum, which has written a request to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The forum asked the bodies to block SpaceX from pre-selling the beta version of the satellite internet service in the country.
As noted in a report from The Economic Times, TV Ramachandran, the industry body president, argued that SpaceX does not have the necessary license or authorizations from the government to offer its beta services in India.
The Broadband India Forum represents companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, Hughes, and Microsoft. In its request, the forum asked the bodies to “urgently intervene to protect fair competition and adherence to existing policy and regulatory norms.” It also noted that SpaceX seemed to be “non-compliant to existing guidelines” in India.
Explaining further, the forum added that Starlink does not have its own ground stations in the country, nor does it have the satellite frequency authorization from the ISRO and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). According to the forum, these are needed for a company to be allowed to offer beta services in India.
SpaceX, for its part, has not issued a statement about the matter. In a statement to the Times, a senior TRAI official has stated that the issue brought up by the Broadband India Forum “would be examined.”
SpaceX is currently offering pre-orders for the beta version of Starlink in India for a fully refundable deposit of $99 (about Rs 7,000). The satellite internet service is poised to compete with other satellite communication services such as the Bharti Group and the UK government-owned OneWeb, which is also expected to launch its services sometime in 2022. Competition may also be coming in the form of Amazon’s Project Kuiper, which is yet to provide internet services, even in beta form.
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Elon Musk to become board member of Endeavor Group Holdings: SEC Filing
Tesla CEO Elon Musk will join the Endeavor Group Holdings Board of Directors ahead of the group’s Initial Public Offering, a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission says.
Musk, 49, currently spends his time with Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink, and The Boring Company, but will join the Endeavor board in the coming months, the filing says. He is currently listed as a “Director Nominee.” However, the filing describes what Musk’s eventual position will be.
“Mr. Musk is currently a director nominee and will become a member of our board of directors at or prior to the pricing of this offering,” the filing says. “Mr. Musk was selected to serve on our board of directors because of his professional background and experience running a public company, his previously held senior executive-level positions, his service on other public company boards and his experience starting, growing and integrating businesses.”
Endeavor includes several well-known brands under its parent company, including talent agencies WME and IMG, and premier mixed martial arts promotion Ultimate Fighting Championship, most commonly referred to as the UFC. The UFC was purchased by Endeavor’s WME-IMG joint venture in July 2016 for $4.2 billion.
Endeavor had attempted to launch an IPO in the past but pulled the plug on the effort at the last minute in the Fall of 2019 when market conditions were unfavorable. The company may have sensed it wouldn’t reach its fundraising goal, according to Deadline, and opted to wait for better economic circumstances.
It also skipped 2020 as a possible date for its IPO due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Despite pulling in less of a profit compared to 2019, CEO Ari Emanuel stated the company remained resilient despite the tough circumstances and is attempting to initiate an IPO in the coming months.
“As challenging a year as 2020 was, it underscored the strength, creativity, and resilience of our people who mobilized time and time again in the face of overwhelming odds,” Emanuel wrote in the S-1 filing. “We made difficult decisions but worked as a team to find creative solutions and best position the business for the future.” The company reported $3.5 billion in revenue last year, down $1.1 billion from 2019.
The filing for the possible Endeavor IPO indicates the company wants to raise $100 million, but this number could ultimately change.
As long as Endeavor can raise the correct capital and it avoids any other dicey economic uncertainties, it will trade under the “EDR” ticker symbol on the New York Stock Exchange.
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