Image Credit: Ghoulardi Film Company

Yesterday, I was happy to share the news that Stripe could be worth over $100 billion.

Today, it is unsurprising that the private market may be valuing SpaceX at $74 billion:

It’s unusual for Sequoia to make new investments at such a high valuation. At least one of the firm’s partners has a long-time relationship with SpaceX founder and Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk. Sequoia partner Roelof Botha was chief financial officer at PayPal Holdings Inc. when Musk was its CEO two decades ago.

A person familiar with Sequoia’s thinking said the firm is particularly enthusiastic about SpaceX’s Starlink, a space-based high-speed internet service. The company has rolled out Starlink to more than 10,000 people in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. and Sequoia is optimistic about its growth potential.

SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, California, was founded with the ultimate goal of creating a human colony on Mars. Its sky-high aims are capital-intensive, and the company had raised almost $6 billion before its most recent investment round, according to PitchBook.

The company’s $850 million funding round and valuation were reported earlier by CNBC. Link

I won’t start to preach from the Gospel of Elon.

But as more people start to learn that SpaceX can be satellites and not just rockets, some will also learn that Tesla ($TSLA) can be solar energy and not just cars:

As Texans gradually regain power after days of catastrophic outages amid freezing temperatures, some Tesla customers are grateful for their electric cars which provided critical emergency power.

For example, one Reddit user posted in the r/TeslaMotors subreddit that, after running out of firewood, the family including an infant slept in their Model 3 with the heat on while it was parked in the garage. This can be safely done in an electric vehicle because it produces no emissions, but it would be fatal with a gas-powered car that emits toxic carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide poisonings have skyrocketed in Texas this week, and two people in Houston died from carbon monoxide poisoning while sleeping in the family car in the garage while it was running.

Tesla also sells solar panels and a home battery called a PowerWall, and another Reddit user posted that he was “very grateful” to have one during the rolling blackouts. The non-emergency value proposition for solar installations with batteries is to power the home with stored electricity from the battery during peak usage hours with higher rates, but the battery can also serve as emergency backup.

Widespread outages and grid emergencies such as the current situation in Texas and the wildfire-related outages in California demonstrate both the promises and current shortcomings of the energy transition. On the one hand, microgrids with energy stored in local batteries and solar installations are obviously more resilient and resistant to widespread catastrophes. On the other hand, home batteries will only get you so far, and while vehicle-to-grid connections that could turn your electric car into a home battery look promising for evening out grid demand during normal times, it also raises concerns for emergency situations where people need their cars to evacuate on short notice. It’s easy to ensure you have a quarter tank of gas at all times, but trickier to ensure the grid doesn’t draw down vehicle charges below a certain amount (see, for example, this thread about the mysterious workings between a PowerWall and solar panels during the Texas outages). Link

It’s probably easier to show off the falcon wing doors of a Model X than point to a Powerwall in your garage.

But when Tesla acquired SolarCity, there was an inevitable vision to disrupt parts of the energy sector.

Solar energy and its siblings in clean energy are nothing new in the United States.

But it’s easy to gang up on the smaller kids to project inadequacies:

Heather Zichal, CEO of the industry group the American Clean Power Association, said opponents of renewable energy were trying to distract from the failures elsewhere in the system and slow the “transition to a clean energy future.”

It is disgraceful to see the longtime antagonists of clean power — who attack it whether it is raining, snowing or the sun is shining — engaging in a politically opportunistic charade, misleading Americans to promote an agenda that has nothing to do with restoring power to Texas communities,” she said. Link

According to the stock summary page on Robinhood, I own 0% shares of any company in “Energy & Water.”

The next closest is < 1% in “Manufacturing & Materials,” which is how the app categorizes Uber ($UBER) for some reason.

Who knows what NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover will find on the red planet.

Maybe it’ll strike oil and buy J. R. Ewing’s cowboy hat.

In the meantime, the rover needs electrical power:

The Perseverance rover requires electrical power to operate.

Without power, the rover cannot move, use its science instruments, or communicate with Earth.

Perseverance carries a radioisotope power system. This power system produces a dependable flow of electricity using the heat of plutonium’s radioactive decay as its “fuel.”

The power source is called a “Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator” or MMRTG for short. The MMRTG converts heat from the natural radioactive decay of plutonium into electricity. This power system charges the rover’s two primary batteries. The heat from the MMRTG is also used to keep the rover’s tools and systems at their correct operating temperatures. Link

Meanwhile, on Earth, we need to better prepare for future human terrestrial missions.

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