Elon Musk is a mad genius. Need proof? Well, he’s fitting rocket thrusters in a car to turn it into a road-going spaceship!
Planet Earth is full of insane people. It’s also, thankfully, full of geniuses. And when these two worlds collide, you end up with someone called Elon Musk – a crazy, eccentric, mad genius.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for two decades, you would have heard of Musk by now– a multibillionaire businessman who’s the real-world Tony Stark, and is known for his capricious outbursts on Twitter. Also, he’s into rockets and wants to colonize Mars! So, obviously, he founded his own aerospace engineering firm called SpaceX. And it seems to be doing pretty well – in fact, a couple of weeks ago, SpaceX became the first private firm to send astronauts to the International Space Station.
Like all of us, Musk, too, is not a fan of traffic jams. However, instead of updating his playlist to kill time in traffic, he decided to find a long-term solution by founding ‘The Boring Company’, which has expertise in drilling holes (tunnels) in big cities for the underground movement of vehicles. Moreover, Musk also wants to build an ultra-high-speed underground public transportation system (Hyperloop), wherein passengers will be transported from one place to another by pressurised autonomous electric pods travelling at more than 600mph (965km/h)!
What’s more, in 2016, Musk co-founded Neuralink – a neurotechnology company that works on developing implantable brain-machine interfaces, and it’s expected to come out with a brain-chip that will allow people suffering from paralysis to walking again!
So, here’s the thing – the more you know about Musk, the more you realise that he is the visionary of visionaries. To be honest, Elon Musk makes Iron Man look a bit outdated – and he does it in the real world!
For car lovers like you and me, though, Musk’s biggest achievement has to be Tesla. An electric car company that’s made EVs desirable. If Jeremy Clarkson made an entire generation of petrolheads believe that electric cars are as dull as washing machines, Musk can be single-handedly credited for changing that perception by making EVs sexy! In fact, he was so serious about it that the entire Tesla ‘Model’ line-up is made up of letters – S, 3, X, Y (the Model 3 couldn’t be named Model E because Ford owns the rights for that.)
While Tesla has already pushed the boundaries for electric vehicles ludicrously, there’s no stopping Musk and his insane ambitions. And thanks to his obstinacy, Musk and Tesla are on their way to change the way the world perceives speed in road cars, with the upcoming second-gen Tesla Roadster.
Now, the second-gen Roadster was announced in 2017 with some interesting stats – 0 to 100km/h in under 2 seconds, a top speed of 400km/h, and a range of 1,000 kilometres! All this is quite mind-boggling as is, but Musk wants the new Roadster to be even quicker! So much so that he’s already announced that it’ll be offered with an optional ‘SpaceX’ package that – as Musk tweeted back in 2018 – ‘will include ~10 small rocket thrusters arranged seamlessly around the car. These rocket engines dramatically improve acceleration, top speed, braking & cornering. Maybe they will even allow a Tesla to fly…’
Yes, you read that right – it might freaking fly!
As crazy as it sounds, some recent reports suggest that the Roadster will be able to hover above the ground – much like Doc Brown’s DeLorean time machine from Back to the Future. Musk even hinted on Twitter that the Roadster ‘will actually do something like this’ when it comes out in 2022.
Sounds like we’re entering the world of Science Fiction here, doesn’t it? But, if you think about it, ahem, mathematically – well, a flying Tesla is certainly a possibility. In a recent video on YouTube by Engineering Explained, host Jason Fenske tries to theoretically prove this. Based on his calculations, he believes the Roadster, with the SpaceX package and cold air thrusters, could hit 100km/h in just 1.1 seconds!
In the video, Jason tries to explain that the Roadster, with the SpaceX package, will produce an additional 1.01g of acceleration on top of the theoretical 1.44g acceleration of the ‘regular’ model (0 – 97km/h in 1.9 seconds). The total acceleration force will be 2.5g, which will help reduce the acceleration time drastically. If you think about it, that makes sense. You see, you can put a thousand more horses into the McLaren P1 or the Ferrari LaFerrari, but they won’t accelerate any quicker. It’s not the firepower that’s the limiting factor, instead, it’s all about traction and putting the power down via the tyres. So, if you eliminate these limitations using rocket thrusters, you will go much faster. Which is what Musk aims to do with the Roaster.
That said, at the moment, these are all speculations based on the public information shared by Musk. Plus, with cold air thrusters, the Roadster is not going to be road-legal – although it’s understood that the SpaceX package will be a ‘track-only’ option. But, then, there’s the question of safely packaging highly pressurized cold gas in a car. Not to mention, the energy that’s required to compress air (to the tune of 10,000 psi) will be very high, and since the cylinders will be replenished using energy from an electric pump that will draw power from the battery pack, it’ll adversely affect the car’s range. Well, it is a very complex project.
However, if Musk manages to pull this off – which, given his past endeavours, is possible – it’ll be an automotive triumph of epic proportions. And whether that’ll make you love EVs or not, you’ve got to tip your hat to the man who plans to turn road-cars into spaceships, quite literally!
On May 30th, 2020, Elon Musk’s SpaceX created history by becoming the first private firm to send astronauts to the International Space Station. Dubbed the Demo-2 mission, the launch took place at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, as they were launched into the low-Earth orbit by the Falcon 9 rocket.
Musk’s meltdowns on Twitter can be amusing, but they do cause panic among investors. Earlier in May, Musk tweeted that Tesla’s share price was ‘too high’, and within hours, that single tweet reduced Tesla’s market value by around $13 billion - its share price fell from $760 to $718. However, there were no serious long-term implications, as Tesla’s shares are now soaring at around $1,000!
After making mainstream EVs desirable, Tesla and Musk are now taking a stab at building America’s favourite type of vehicle – a pickup truck. It’s called the Cybertruck. In typical Musk fashion, Tesla’s idea of a pickup truck is entirely outlandish – although with so many creases and straight angles, it looks like a bunch of kids with rulers were appointed to design it!