SpaceX’s spacesuited Starman mannequin serves a real purpose


SpaceX put a “Starman” into space today, on a path to a potential wide looping orbit of Mars and Earth — it was actually a mannequin wearing an official SpaceX crew flight suit, but it was more than just a fun payload for a rocket that stood every chance of exploding mid-flight, it turns out.

Elon Musk revealed on a press call following the Falcon Heavy launch on Tuesday that the mannequin was wearing an actual production SpaceX crew spacesuit, rather than a non-functional prototype or mock-up. The suit, which the SpaceX CEO revealed last year via Instagram, will eventually clothe SpaceX astronauts flying on board Crew Dragon, the capsule it’s developing to bring real people to space, with a target initial launch date of later this year if all goes to plan.

The suit, developed in-house by SpaceX, features a sleeker design than most spacefaring flight suits you’ll find. It’s a design that came with a price, however: Musk said that combining style and function was a particular challenge in a spacesuit.

“I mean, it’s a dangerous trip, you want to look good,” he said. “It’s easy to make a spacesuit that looks good but doesn’t work, it’s really hard to make a spacesuit that works, and looks good.”

And the suit does look good: It’s a stylish black and white, with clean lines and a helmet that looks like it’s been pulled from a sci-fi film with excellent costume design.

The suit, as mentioned, has more than good looks, however. It’s also a part of the qualification articles set by NASA that must be met in order to operate crewed launches that it be tested in the correct conditions, so Starman is serving SpaceX’s larger goal of providing crewed flight capabilities, too.

“It definitely works though,” Musk added. “You can just put it on and jump in a vacuum chamber.”

Elon Musk’s Boring Co. flamethrower is real, $500 and up for pre-order


So that flamethrower that Elon Musk teased The Boring Company would start selling after it ran out of its 50,000 hats? Yeah, it’s real – and you can pre-order one now if you want need a ridiculous way to spend $500.

Musk revealed the flamethrower on Saturday, after some digging tipped its existence late last week. The Boring Company Flamethrower is functional, too, as you can see from this Instagram featuring some Boring Co. staff, presumably well safety trained, firing off two of the things IRL.

Marketing copy for the flamethrower includes a “guarantee” that it will “liven up any party,” and a proclamation that it’s “world’s safest flamethrower,” in case you were concerned (you probably are not, if you’re ordering a flamethrower on the internet). The $500 fee doesn’t include taxes and shipping, which are added at checkout, and the initial shipments will come out in spring.

There’s also a disclaimer about international shipping incurring extra fees (and maybe seizure at the border?) plus, buyers will be required to review and accept a terms and conditions document prior to getting their flamethrower in the mail.

The Boring Co. also sells a fire extinguisher, because they know how to make an upsell with specific relevance, and it’s $30, which they fully admit is more than you’d pay elsewhere. But it has a sticker. There’s not even a picture, so it probably doesn’t look all that impressive.

Musk’s Boring Company is literally a company focused on tunnel boring, but it seems like it’ll be a while before it has revenue or significant results (even if it’s already digging test tunnels). To fund the project until then, selling weird stuff with the company’s logo to Muskheads everywhere seems like a decent plan. Even if it contributes negatively to the sum total of working flamethrowers existing in the world.

Elon Musk promises to make a pickup truck ‘right after Model Y’


On the heels of Elon Musk unveiling the Tesla all-electric semi-truck and a second-generation Roadster in November, Musk took to Twitter today to ask his fans how Tesla can further improve.

In response to someone who requested a Tesla pickup truck, Musk said, “I promise that we will make a pickup truck right after Model Y. Have had the core design/engineering elements in my mind for almost 5 years. Am dying to build it.”

In terms of size, Musk said it would be comparable to Ford’s F-150 total size, but “maybe slightly bigger to account for a really gamechanging (I think) feature I’d like to add.”

This isn’t too surprising given that Musk said earlier this year Tesla planned to show off an electric pickup sometime within the next couple of years. Then, at Tesla’s big semi-truck unveiling in November, Musk revealed an image of an electric pickup truck, which was based on the architecture of the semi-truck. And in Musk’s “Master Plan, Part Deux” in 2016, he described Tesla’s plans to create “a new kind of pickup truck.”

The only hint we have around timing is that Tesla would start making the pickup truck right after Model Y, which Tesla has yet to unveil. The Model Y is a crossover/small SUV vehicle that is reportedly in the more advanced stages of development. Tesla expects to launch the Model Y by 2020.

Featured Image: DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images