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Tesla Roadster’s ‘SpaceX package’ with rocket thrusters could actually work

This weekend proved to be a fruitful one for Elon Musk’s Twitter followers and fans of the next-generation Tesla Roadster, as the billionaire entrepreneur discussed, in honest-to-goodness seriousness, how the electric car maker would utilize SpaceX technology to make the upcoming all-electric supercar an absolute monster on wheels. Needless to say, there was quite a lot to take in.

Musk started off his Twitter discussion on the next-generation Roadster by stating that the car will feature ~10 rocket thrusters that are “arranged seamlessly around (the) car.” Musk further noted that the thrusters would “dramatically” improve acceleration, braking, and cornering, to the point that the Roadster would be able to fly — a reaffirmation of his previous statement referring to the vehicle having the capability to fly “short hops.”

Musk noted that Tesla would be using SpaceX’s Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessel (COPV), a container consisting of a thin, non-structural liner wrapped with a structural fiber composite. COPVs are designed to hold a fluid under pressure, and are used by SpaceX’s first-stage rocket boosters during re-entry and landing. Musk further explained the use of SpaceX’s technology in later tweets.

While the idea of using rocket propulsion to enhance the performance of an all-electric supercar might seem to be well into the realms of science fiction, using COPVs for the next-gen Roadster is actually pretty feasible, at least from a technical standpoint. SpaceX’s COPVs have operating pressures of around 350 bars (5,000 psi) and too powerful for a land vehicle. If Tesla installs a similar version of  SpaceX’s upper stage thrusters that are used in guiding rockets, rear-mounted devices could store just enough compressed air to provide Tesla’s next-gen Roadster an additional boost in acceleration for a short duration.

Rocket thrusters placed in front of the vehicle that provides thrust opposite of the Roadster’s direction of travel, at least in concept, could help the electric car’s braking capability, while thrusters placed along each side of the vehicle can help in cornering by providing lateral force. In order to accomplish this, however, Tesla would have to carefully balance the weight of components from the upgraded SpaceX package – Musk noted that the vehicle would sacrifice its rear seats from the standard 2+ 2 configuration to accommodate the additional hardware – with output from the rocket thrusters to maximize the vehicle’s performance. Onboard electric air pumps would repressurize the space-grade containers when they were depleted, making for repeat fun, at least in a theoretical sense. Musk also stated that SpaceX COPVs that will be used for the next-generation Roadster will be durable, and be “literally bulletproof.”

Overall, Musk reiterated that the next-generation Tesla Roadster is designed to be the best car in the industry when it gets released. During his tweetstorm, Musk mentioned that with the all-electric supercar, Tesla is attempting to beat ICE vehicles on “every performance metric;” thus transferring the “halo crown effect” gas cars have as the top speed standards in the automotive market.

New details about Tesla’s next-generation Roadster have been released by Elon Musk lately. The SpaceX option for the vehicle was announced during the 2018 Annual Shareholder Meeting, and not long after that, Musk also revealed that the vehicle would feature an “Augmented Mode” designed to “enhance human driving ability,” thereby providing assistance to drivers who would be operating the insanely powerful supercar.

During the unveiling of the next-generation Tesla Roadster, Elon Musk noted that the purpose of the all-electric supercar is to give a “hardcore smackdown” to gasoline-powered cars. The specs of the vehicle that were unveiled then, which are representative of the all-electric supercar’s base trim, are already record-breaking, including a 0-60 mph time of 1.9 seconds, a quarter-mile time of 8.9 seconds, a top speed of over 250 mph, 620 miles of range thanks to a 200 kWh battery, and 10,000 Nm of torque. With the Roadster’s SpaceX option, the all-electric supercar could very well establish a new class of vehicles that lie beyond the hypercar echelon. 

Tesla Roadster’s ‘SpaceX package’ with rocket thrusters could actually work

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