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Elon Musk
空间X CEO Elon Musk speaks at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium. (USAF via DVIDS)

空间X CEO Elon Musk took a rare deep dive into the workings of his company’sStarlink broadband satellite operation在雷德蒙德,洗。,今天在空军协会的情况下空战研讨会in Florida.

He also put in a pitch for robotic fighter jets … and for Starfleet Academy.

The discussion of Starlink satellite development came during a近乎HALLONG FILESIDE聊天with Lt. Gen. John Thompson, commander of the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles.

空间X’s satellite operationwas established five years ago in Redmond, in part because Musk was looking for the sort of engineering expertise that was available at Microsoft and Boeing. “There’s a huge amount of talent in the Seattle area, and a lot of you guys, it seems, don’t want to move to L.A.,”麝香告诉一群工程师when he announced the satellite project at Seattle Center.

让卫星脱离地面需要数年,道路并不总是顺利。Two prototype satellites were launchedin February 2018, but just a few months later,麝香重组了雷德蒙德运营。As a result, several of Redmond’s top engineers left SpaceX. Some of them最终引领了亚马逊竞争卫星努力的主导作用那known asProject Kuiper

Like Project Kuiper, the Starlink operation aims to put thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit to provide new avenues for broadband internet access. But Starlink has a head start of several years: SpaceX has launched 300 of the satellites and could begin limited service later this year.

Spacex和空军已经测试了用于空中通信的部分Starlink网络under the terms of a $28.7 million contract。And Starlink will come in for more extensive use in April during真空锻炼瞄准无人机和巡航导弹

该练习将于亚利桑那州,新墨西哥州和佛罗里达州的基地运行,以测试先进的战斗管理系统,或ABMS,该系统旨在取代和扩展军队的空中通信能力JSTARS surveillance airplanes

In light of Starlink’s military application, it’s no surprise that Thompson asked about Starlink’s status during today’s fireside chat. Here’s how Musk replied:

“Starlink production is going well, actually. That was a hard thing to get right. We had many iterations on the Starlink prototypes. Then, building the Starlink production like was, like, 1,000% harder than designing the satellite to begin with. But it is important to design for manufacture, and have a tight feedback loop between the design of the object and the manufacturing system.

“首先设计对象时,您不会意识到所有难以制造的零件。所以拥有制造系统和设计 - 你同时带来那些,所以你实际上是,一开始,你知道你知道的事情是错误的。但你实际上弄清楚了难以制造的事情。这是真正的问题。

“We brought up the Starlink production line before we actually had the design finalized, which was actually the right thing to do. And then we discovered, ‘Oh, there’s all these things in the design that were very difficult to make, so therefore we must change the design.’

“卫星最终有相同的能力。它只是很容易制作和推出。“

麝香立即修正了那个陈述,称,制作和发射卫星的任务仍然是“努力,但它正在完成”。

他指出,卫星现在正在生产的速度比可以推出的速度快,并且制造卫星的成本降低了将它们运送到轨道的每单位成本。

在他们目前的配置中,Starlink卫星在60次上发射,并以这样的方式部署,使得它们在低地球轨道和机动中展开使用氪离子推进器的预期轨道位置。天文学家越来越担心狗万平台卫星星座对夜空观测的影响。In response, SpaceX says it’s experimenting with technologies that could cut down on the satellites’ glare. However, Musk indicated that SpaceX doesn’t intend to slow down its launch rate. In fact, he expects the rate to increase dramatically once SpaceX’sStarship super-rocketgoes into operation.

“The satellite’s in a good situation, and the cost of that satellite will keep coming down as we ramp up rates and make design improvements,” Musk said. “So we really need Starship to carry Starlink in order to get the total delivered cost to orbit to be much better than it is today — which is still very good.”

“战斗机时代已经过去了”

On another topic, Musk said there needed to be a competitor to theAir Force’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter,这是由洛克希德马丁建造的,并是对成本超支的争议的主题。

“It’s not good to have one provider,” Musk said. “It’s good to have competition, where that competition is meaningful and somebody can actually lose.”

Musk also said “locally autonomous drone warfare is where the future will be.”

“战斗机时代过去了,”他说。

After the talk, Musk在推文中扩大了他的评论。“竞争对手应该是一个由人类控制的无人驾驶飞机,但它的演习通过自主义力增强了。”他写道。“F-35对其没有机会。”

The concept that Musk described sounds similar to the “Loyal Wingman” system thatBoeing洛克希德马丁andKratos一直在努力。这样的系统将与试点控制飞机组成无导体,武装无障碍。波音和海军最近证明了the conceptusing EA-18G Growler aircraft.

Other highlights from today’s chat

  • Musk said fully reusable rockets like Starship will be key to maintaining America’s primacy in space. “It will definitely require radical innovation,” he said. “One can’t get there by incrementally innovating expendable boosters.”
  • If the United States doesn’t continue to innovate in space, “it will be second in space, as sure as night follows day,” Musk said. Who would be first? Musk pointed to China. Because China’s population is more than four times greater than America’s, “the Chinese economy is going to be at least twice as big as the U.S. economy,” he said.
  • 他说,经济差异将对国防政策产生影响:“战争的基础是经济学,所以如果你有一个柜台资源的一半,那么你最好是真正的创新性。manbetx客户端1.0下载如果你不是创新,你将失去。......在没有激进的创新中,美国将是军事的第二个。“
  • In response to Thompson’s lightning-round questions, Musk said that artificial intelligence will be the “most fundamentally transformative” technology over the next five years, and that he considered computer science and physics to be the most valuable academic degrees.
  • Musk said he thought creating a U.S. Space Force was a great idea, but he insisted that there should be “cool uniforms, cool spaceships.” He said the general public wanted to see the Star Trek vision of Starfleet Academy become a reality. “Just try to make Starfleet happen as soon as humanly possible, and definitely while we’re still alive,” Musk told the uniformed audience. “I’m not sure about warp drive, but the other stuff can be done.”
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