SpaceX’s Starship Moon lander passes NASA review alongside Blue Origin, Dynetics

SpaceX’s Starship Moon lander passes NASA review alongside Blue Origin, Dynetics

A variant of SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft optimized to land NASA astronauts on the Moon has passed the space agency’s first review alongside competing teams lead by Blue Origin and Dynetics.

Aside from reiterating the fact that NASA is drawing heavily from its experience with the Commercial Crew Program (CCP), the completion of “certification baseline reviews” for Blue Origin, Dynetics, and SpaceX’s proposed lunar landers is a significant step forward for the Human Landing System (HLS) and Artemis programs. According to NASA’s official HLS “Broad Agency Announcement” or BAA, providers must submit a vast amount of paperwork and data to pass the certification baseline review (CBR).

More of a than an assignment than an actual review, NASA’s acceptance criteria for CBR documentation is about as general as the space agency gets, requiring providers to demonstrate at least a basic level of maturity and expertise. Like the name suggests, it sets a baseline from which NASA and SpaceX, Dynetics, and Blue Origin’s National Team will hone in on challenges and concerns specific to each system. SpaceX’s proposal is almost certainly unique, however, given that the company is the only one anywhere close to performing actual flight tests of a (relatively) similar system.

Pictured on the left, SpaceX’s lunar Starship is a customized version of the baseline ship meant to land NASA astronauts on the Moon. (SpaceX)

After much fanfare, NASA finally revealed its first real Human Landing System contracts on April 30th, 2020, awarding funds to Blue Origin, Dynetics, and SpaceX to develop three extremely dissimilar Moon landers. Designed to ferry NASA astronauts from a deserted lunar orbit (near-rectilinear halo orbit, NRHO). NASA initially refused to delineate the distribution of the $967 million contract.

A list of the HLS Certification Baseline Review (CBR) “acceptance criteria and products”. (NASA)

Several news outlets later reported that Blue Origin’s “National Team” (including Draper, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman) received $567 million to develop a complex three-stage system, using Blue Origin’s existing Blue Moon lander work for the final descent stage and lander. Dynetics won $253 million to build a slightly more familiar single-stage lander and SpaceX received $135 million for a single-stage Starship-derived vehicle.

The main goal of NASA’s initial funding is to extensively characterize and understand the capabilities and characteristics of each proposal and the likelihood that each vehicle will actually be ready to land humans on the Moon by the end of 2024. The next major HLS milestone will be what the space agency calls a “continuation review,” in which NASA will likely downselect to one of the three landers above. Administrator Jim Bridenstine says that NASA may decide to proceed with more than one provider but the strong implication is that only one will exit the ~December 2020 continuation review with future funding.

Unlike Blue Origin and Dynetics, SpaceX has already flight-tested multiple full-scale Starship prototypes. (SpaceX)

For SpaceX, it appears that the company will almost certainly field an orbit-capable Starship and Super Heavy booster with or without external help. At this point in the program, it would take a major upset for SpaceX not to be ready to start orbital Starship launch attempts in 2021. To an extent, SpaceX has proven through Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and Crew Dragon that it’s capable of developing reliable, reusable, industry-leading rockets and spacecraft several times more cheaply than its closest competitors.

To build a Starship safe and reliable enough that SpaceX can convince NASA to land astronauts on the Moon with it, the company will effectively have to prove that it can cut the cost of rocket production by another factor of five or ten. Time will tell where NASA’s HLS cards fall just a few months from now.

Check out Teslarati’s newsletters for prompt updates, on-the-ground perspectives, and unique glimpses of SpaceX’s rocket launch and recovery processes.

SpaceX’s Starship Moon lander passes NASA review alongside Blue Origin, Dynetics

VIDEO: Detailed review of the new VW I.D.3

VIDEO: Detailed review of the new VW I.D.3

VW,s I.D.3 is the start of the Volkswagen Group pure electric offensive, with the underpinning set to spawn a variety of models from within the group.  Most recently used in the SEAT El-Born, shown as a potential electric hot hatch.

First announced in May 2019 and reserved by over 30,000 pre-bookers across Europe, the ID.3 1st Edition is priced at £38,880 before the UK Government plug-in car grant is applied. To mark it apart from future ID.3 variants it features exclusive badging and a two-tone honeycomb decal, alongside an extensive equipment list. Standard equipment includes LED headlights with Matrix Beam and Welcome Light, 19-inch Andoya alloy wheels and tinted rear windows, along with a black-coloured roof, side skirts, boot and rear spoiler. Several driver assistance systems are also included, with Adaptive Cruise Control, Front Assist and Lane Assist included in the package, as well as parking sensors and a rear-view camera.

The ID.3 1st Edition has an ample range of 260 miles (WLTP) from its 58 kWh (net) battery capacity. It also features the added bonus of rapid charging compatibility of up to 100 kW, with the ability to add around 180 miles of range in just 30 minutes from a 100 kW CCS charger. 

It will be followed by seven series variants of the ID.3 opening for order in the autumn.

Here we present a detailed video review from our friends at Autogefuhl.

Tesla Sentry Mode is coming to Amazon’s Ring with new USB hub

Tesla Sentry Mode is coming to Amazon’s Ring with new USB hub

Ring, Amazon’s home security company, is launching a new car product that first work with Tesla’s Sentry Mode and working with a new USB hub.

Tesla’s Sentry Mode is an integrated surveillance system inside Tesla’s vehicles using the Autopilot cameras around the car.

The system detects when there’s a “threat,” which basically consists of anyone or anything approaching the car, and starts recording.

It was released after there was a series of break-ins in Tesla vehicles in the Bay Area.

The system, which is built on Tesla’s TeslaCam dashcam system, has been changing the game when it comes to vandalizing parked cars.

We reported on several instances where Sentry Mode’s video evidence helped police identify and find vandals.

It has also helped prevent theft or solve them after the fact — like recently with an RV in Canada.

In order for TeslaCam and Sentry Mode to work on a Tesla, you need a few accessories. You need a storage device, we recommend a Samsung portable SSD, but a USB hub is also highly recommended in order to be able to use your USB ports.

At first, Tesla owners were just using USB splitter and dongles, but more recently, many Tesla owners decided to improve their setups with a hub designed especially for Model 3 and Model Y from Jeda.

The hub allows users to hide their storage device neatly while offering more USB ports. Several companies have since copied the design.

Now Ring is launching a similar solution that works with its exiting home security app.

The product is called “Ring Car Connect” and it is “an API for car manufacturers that allows customers to receive mobile alerts for detected events, watch recorded vehicle video footage, and see important vehicle information such as if the car is locked or unlocked.”

Tesla vehicles are the first cars to get to be integrated:

The first compatible vehicles for Ring Car Connect are Tesla models 3, X, S, and Y. Once users install this aftermarket device, they can watch Tesla Sentry Mode and recorded driving footage in the Ring app over wifi or from anywhere via LTE (with an optional connectivity plan).

It basically allows you to link your Tesla Sentry Mode to your Ring home security system.

Based on pictures released by Ring, they are also planning to package their Ring Car Connect system in a USB hub:

The device itself will cost $200 on top of the monthly Ring subscription. Preorders are launching on October 8 on Amazon and deliveries are going to happen in 2021.

Electrek’s Take

At $200, it is certainly not cheap. It sounds like it comes with a storage device, but the capacity is not clear.

I guess it could be a good solution if you are already a Ring app user.

If not, I think an SSD with Jeda’s USB hub makes more sense. You can get a good SSD starting at around $80 and the Jeda hub, which costs $79. Electrek readers can get an extra $15 discount by using the code Electrek.

Either way, it’s nice to see more options, but I feel like Tesla could bring everything in house to create a more seamless experience.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.

Geely’s Lynk & Co Reveals Zero Concept All-Electric Car

Geely’s Lynk & Co Reveals Zero Concept All-Electric Car

A couple of days ahead of the Beijing Motor Show, Geely’s premium electric sub brand, Lynk & Co, has introduced its first all-electric vehicle, the Zero Concept.

The Zero is a BEV crossover, with similar dimensions as the Ford Mustang Mach-E, the Volkswagen ID.4 and Tesla Model Y. The Zero Concept (or whatever it’s called in production form) won’t only compete with those cars in China, as Lynk & Co is planning on being a global brand. 

The Lynk & Co Zero Concept employs Geely’s Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA). The SEA will be used in a variety of the Geely group’s future electric vehicles. Geely also has plans to license the platform to other OEMs, much like how Volkswagen is willing to share the MEB platform with other EV manufacturers, for the right price, of course. 

Lynk & Co Zero Concept battery and powertrain

Lynk & Co Zero Concept SEA platform

The SEA is a familiar-looking skateboard platform, with a battery pack under the floor of the passenger compartment, and room for any combination of front, rear, tri-motor and even range extender configurations. 

Up front, the sloping hood does take some styling cues from Porsche, and I can’t look at the side view of the rear of the vehicle without seeing a Jaguar I-Pace

Lynk & Co promises a 700km (435 mile) driving range, but that’s going by the generous NEDC range test that is still used in China. Still, by using our InsideEVs NEDC to EPA range conversion,  the Zero gets a 300-mile (483 km) driving range, which would be roughly the same as the Model Y and the Mach-E, and offer about 50 more miles of range than the ID.4.

Lynk & Co is holding most of the specifications for release at the Beiging Motor Show later this week, but they are saying that the Zero Concept will go from a standstill to 60 mph in under 4 seconds. Which, and I can’t believe I’m writing this, is just kind of “average” for the competition it will face.

It’s really amazing how quick electric vehicles are. Just a few years ago, only the most expensive sports cars and supercars went 0-60 in under 4 seconds. Now it’s like meh, everybody does that. 

We’ll keep an eye out for Lynk & Co, and get the rest of the details once they are announced in Beijing later this week. What’s your thoughts on the Zero Concept? Would you be interested if it were available in your market? It may actually be someday since Lynk & Co do plan to offer its vehicles in Europe and the US. Let us know what you think in the comment section below. 

Tesla launches Model S Plaid at $139k: 520+ mi, 1100HP, 200 MPH top speed

Tesla launches Model S Plaid at $139k: 520+ mi, 1100HP, 200 MPH top speed

Tesla officially unveiled the Plaid Model S during its Battery Day Event and listed the impressive specifications that the new powertrain holds. According to Tesla, the Plaid Powertrain Model S will have a 200 MPH top speed, a 0-60 MPH acceleration rate in less than 2 seconds, more than 520 miles of range, and more than 1,100 horsepower, making it the company’s most powerful configuration of its flagship sedan to date.

The Plaid Model S is currently available for purchase on Tesla’s website for $139,990.

Additionally, the Model S Plaid took down the Laguna Seca Raceway just two days ago in 1:30.3 seconds, with around three extra seconds of possible shave-off time, Musk said.

This would indicate that the Plaid Model S once again has regained the track record at Laguna Seca. The 2.238-mile circuit was recently conquered by the Lucid Air Tri-Motor configuration on August 17th, with an unconfirmed time of 1:33 seconds. This would mean that the Plaid Powertrain is around three seconds faster than the Lucid Air Tri-Motor.

Tesla first unveiled the Plaid Powertrain during testing at Laguna Seca late last year. It broke the track record with a 1:36.555-second time. It then traveled to Germany to take on the Nürburgring raceway in 2019. The Plaid Model S sports a wider body style and multiple aerodynamic improvements thanks to a spoiler and broad rear-diffuser set underneath the car.

After Lucid seemed to indicate that its Tri-Motor variant had set the new record by beating the Plaid Model S time that was recorded last year, it seems Tesla had more than enough of an answer to the new automaker’s performance sedan.

More than a year after the Plaid Mode Model S’ first visit to the Laguna Seca, Tesla has evidently made numerous improvements. This is based on the six-second time improvement from last year’s run.

Tesla launches Model S Plaid at $139k: 520+ mi, 1100HP, 200 MPH top speed

Instavolt opens 11 charger hub in Banbury

Instavolt opens 11 charger hub in Banbury

One of the UK’s largest rapid charging hubs at Banbury just off the M40, has opened three weeks ahead of schedule providing much needed electric vehicle charging infrastructure on the country’s strategic road network.

Located just off the motorway at Junction 11, drivers will be able to charge their EVs using eight state of the art high powered chargers while enjoying on-site facilities including Costa Coffee and a Miller and Carter steakhouse.

Adrian Keen, CEO of InstaVolt, said:

“Despite the recent pandemic I’m delighted that we’ve been able to open the Banbury hub ahead of schedule having only commenced construction in May this year. It demonstrates the hard work and professionalism of our team of project managers and engineers who have worked around the clock to deliver this key infrastructure project.

Strategically Banbury Hub is very important to us as it sits just off one of the country’s busiest motorways, serving London in one direction and the UK’s second city Birmingham, in the other. It will also be particularly welcome to EV drivers who are enjoying holidays at home this year and can travel with the confidence that they’ll be able to charge whilst out and about.

A lack of charging infrastructure on the country’s motorways is often cited as a concern for current and prospective EV drivers. We are solving that problem by deploying chargers where drivers need them most by developing sites up and down the road network just a few hundred metres from motorway junctions.”

InstaVolt has built its reputation on the philosophy that charging an electric vehicle should be quick and easy which is why, unlike many other companies, InstaVoltoperates an ‘open charger’ model, so anyone can use its charging points on a pay-as-you-go basis. No monthly subscription and no membership cards are required with drivers just needing a contactless payment card to start a charging session.

Jaguar Ipace using an InstaVolt rapid charger
Instavolt charge points have gained an enviable reputation for reliability

Earlier this year InstaVolt was named as the best electric vehicle charging network for multiple brands in 2020 in Auto Express’ first ever chargepoint operator survey. In its Driver Power customer satisfaction rankings, the highly respected motoring magazine also gives InstaVolt its coveted “Recommended” award.

The accolade adds to the recognition that InstaVoltearned in the Zap-Map survey where, for the second year running, electric car drivers across the county named InstaVolt as their favourite charging network for multiple brands.