Electric Vehicles

NASA chooses a Tesla Model X to transport astronauts to new SpaceX mission

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted this photo on May 13 featuring the Model X at Kennedy Space Center.

Photo courtesy of Jim Bridenstine, Twitter

On May 27, crewed spaceflight will return to American soil for the first time in a decade. To get astronauts around Kennedy Space Center, where liftoff is set to take place, NASA has chosen to drive them in a Tesla Model X SUV.

On May 13, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted four photos of a Model X with a Florida license plate wearing NASA branding in front of the NASA Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) Horizontal Integration Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

SpaceX is an American aerospace company founded in 2002 by Tesla founder Elon Musk.

NASA's Tesla Model X Demo-2 Transporter

Photo courtesy of Jim Bridenstine, Twitter

Astronauts Col. Bob Behnken and Col. Doug Hurley will be aboard the Model X when it takes them to the launchpad. Behnken will serve as Joint Operation Commander and Hurley's role is Spacecraft Commander. Hurley was last in orbit in 2011 on NASA's final shuttle mission aboard Atlantis.

Atlantis is now retired and on display at Kennedy Space Center.

The Demo-2 mission will mark the first crewed launch SpaceX has ever performed. The mission is a joint operation between NASA, SpaceX, and Boeing and designed to take astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). For the much of the Obama and Trump administrations, NASA has relied on Russian spacecrafts for transport to and from the ISS.

Though it's the first crewed craft in the partnership, SpaceX brings a fair amount of experience to the table. The SpaceX Crew Dragon that the Demo-2 crew will be transported in is a version of the Dragon 2 capsule that SpaceX has used to successfully bring cargo to and from the ISS. The Crew Dragon can carry up to seven passengers, just like the Model X.

The Crew Dragon will not be relying solely on electric power for its flight. However, the mission is set to be more sustainable than other crewed journeys. SpaceX will attempt to land the Falcon 9 booster rocker that will propel the capsule into space on a drone ship that is stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. The company has practiced and successfully achieved this task several times.

Launch coverage of the event will be streamed by NASA starting at 12:15 p.m. ET on May 27. Whether or not the Model X will play a starring role has yet to be seen.

NASA and SpaceX prepare to #LaunchAmerica www.youtube.com

Trending News

 
 

OTA software updates

Tesla rolls back FSD beta before issuing fix

Tesla issued a beta update but quickly pulled it back.

Tesla

Tesla's Full Self-Driving tech is currently in public beta testing, which means that the automaker allows a subset of its owners to download the software to their cars. Over the weekend, Tesla released FSD beta 10.3 and users started reporting issues almost immediately. Since Tesla's PR department is essentially CEO Elon Musk's Twitter account, he took to social media to outline the process to fix problems with the beta.

Tesla FSD Drivers reported issues with vehicle safety systems after updating.Tesla

Musk tweeted that public beta version 10.3 was rolled back to 10.2. "Please note, this is to be expected with beta software," he said. Issues began popping up with Tesla owners on various forums and on social media. Drivers reported that cars shut off active safety features without their input and some noted that their forward collision warnings and automatic emergency braking systems malfunctioned, causing the cars to apply the brakes without any apparent danger in the road ahead.

Tesla FSD A new beta was released this morning with fixes for the problems.Tesla

Early this morning, Musk tweeted again to note that beta version 10.3.1 is rolling out now, which would re-update users to the latest version with fixes. All of this illustrates how FSD is not final and has a way to go before it's ready for showtime. Developing software of any type is difficult work, made even harder by the fact that public roads are so unpredictable at times. So, while Tesla's public beta approach, which puts unproven functions into the hands of everyday drivers, may not be the most palatable for many of us on the roads at the same time, it's certainly netting the company plenty of data to work with.

Trending News

 
 

Cadillac will be the first brand with Ultra Cruise

General Motors

Tesla has been in hot water for a while now for shenanigans pulled by owners abusing the automaker's advanced cruise control functions. While the company's Full Self Driving (FSD) tech isn't quite ready for primetime, other automakers are catching up – quickly. Today, General Motors announced Ultra Cruise, its advanced driver assistance tech that promises to allow hands-free driving in 95 percent of driving scenarios.

Ultra Cruise Ultra Cruise will build on Super Cruise functionality.General Motors

GM notes that its goal is to eventually roll the service out to all paved roads in the U.S. and Canada. When it launches, the service will work on over two million miles of roads, which could nearly double as the program expands.

Ultra Cruise will offer a host of automated driving features that build on Super Cruise:

  • Dynamic display system
  • Ability to react to permanent traffic control devices
  • Follow internal navigation routes
  • Maintain headway and follow speed limits
  • Support automatic, on-demand lane changes
  • Support left and right turns
  • Support close object avoidance
  • Support parking in residential driveways

The system uses LiDAR, radar, and cameras to build a 360-degree, three-dimensional picture of the world around it. An additional LiDAR unit is located behind the windshield. GM notes that a big part of the system is its Human Machine Interface (HMI), which communicates with the driver to alert them when they need to take control. Ultra Cruise-equipped vehicles will do this with a head-up display that helps drivers stay focused on the road, and will use the same driver monitoring cameras that are used in Super Cruise.

Ultra Cruise Ultra Cruise will enable hands-free driving in the majority of driving scenarios.General Motors

Ultra Cruise will first be available in Cadillac vehicles starting from 2023. There's no word on pricing or specific vehicle availability at this time.

Trending News