Tag Archives: Elon Musk

SpaceX Falcon: A Roar of Thunder… A Serious Milestone!

“From the same pad where NASA launched rockets that carried astronauts to the moon, a big, new American rocket arced into space on Tuesday. But this time, NASA was not involved. The rocket, the Falcon Heavy, was built by SpaceX, the company founded and run by the billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk. The launch of this turbocharged version of the workhorse Falcon 9 rocket, which has been carrying cargo to space for years, marks an important milestone in spaceflight, the first time a rocket this powerful has been sent into space by a private company rather than a government space agency.” K. Chang, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: Falcon Heavy, in a Roar of Thunder, Carries SpaceX’s Ambition Into Orbit-By Kenneth Chang, The New York Times

“The rocket carried a playful payload: Mr. Musk’s red Roadster, an electric sports car built by his other company, Tesla. Strapped inside the car is a mannequin wearing one of SpaceX’s spacesuits. They are expected to orbit the sun for hundreds of millions of years.

Front view from Tesla Roadster on Falcon X Heavy. Credit Daily Express

Side view a Tesla Sports Car Flying Through Space Credit- PetaPixel

The success gives SpaceX momentum to begin developing even larger rockets, which could help fulfill Mr. Musk’s dream of sending people to Mars. To do that, he has described a new-generation rocket called B.F.R. (the B stands for big; the R for rocket) that might be ready to launch in the mid-2020s. The Falcon Heavy’s maiden flight makes pursuit of the goal more plausible.

Elon Musk’s space company launched the most powerful rocket in operation.Credit-Todd Anderson for The New York Times

Mr. Musk’s visions include humans living both on Earth and Mars. He’s part of a new generation of entrepreneurial space pioneers that includes Jeffrey P. Bezos, the founder of Amazon, who has said one of the goals driving his rocket company, Blue Origin, is the prospect of millions of people living in space. Planetary Resources, an American company with a large investment from Luxembourg, hopes to mine asteroids for profit. Moon Express, based in Florida, sees a business in providing regular transportation to and from the moon.

For now, the Heavy will enable SpaceX to compete for contracts to launch larger spy satellites, and some experts in spaceflight are encouraging NASA to use private rockets like the Heavy instead of the gigantic and more expensive rocket, the Space Launch System, that is currently being developed in part to take astronauts back to the moon… Just over three minutes after it blasted off, the most suspenseful part of the flight was over, as the boosters dropped off and the second stage continued into Earth orbit.

Two of the boosters land at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station after the launch of SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. Photo- Space.com

Some eight minutes after launch, a pair of sonic booms rocked the area as the two side boosters set down in near synchrony on two landing pads at Cape Canaveral…Once in orbit, the rocket sent back video of the spacesuit-wearing mannequin in the car, with a hand on the steering wheel…In the past year, SpaceX has tabled many of the plans for future development of the Heavy. The company had intended to use the rocket launch one of SpaceX’s capsules, known as the Dragon, without people, on a mission to land on Mars. That was scrapped last summer. Last year, Mr. Musk also said two space tourists would be launched by a Falcon Heavy on an around-the-moon trip this year.

On Monday, he said that for now the company had no immediate plans to make the improvements needed before putting people aboard. Instead, SpaceX is focusing its efforts on the B.F.R. It would be a two-stage rocket: a powerful booster to provide lift out of Earth’s gravity and then a spaceship on top for interplanetary missions.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. NASA has launched rockets in the past.
  2. Astronauts have already been to the moon.
  3. Elon Musk, a well known entrepreneur founded Space X.
  4. Strapped inside the car was  a mannequin wearing one of SpaceX’s spacesuits.
  5. Mr. Musk’s visions include humans living both on Earth and Mars.
  6. Some eight minutes after launch, a pair of sonic booms rocked the area.
  7. The success of the Heavy could quell criticism that followed SpaceX’s first launch of the year.
  8. SpaceX officials vociferously asserted that the Falcon 9 performed as expected.
  9. The development of the Heavy took years longer than anticipated.
  10. Mr. Musk said he had aspirational hopes to begin suborbital tests of the spaceship portion next year.

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

The Falcon___is capable of___140,000___ to low-Earth orbit, more than any othertoday. Because all three ___are to be recovered to fly again, a Falcon Heavy launch costs not much more than one by the company’s___rocket, Mr. Musk said. ___lists a price of $90___for a Falcon Heavy flight, compared with $62 million for one by Falcon 9, a bargain in the context of spaceflight. ___has booked ___Heavy flights for Arabsat, a Saudi Arabian communications company, and the United States Air Force.

WORD LIST: upcoming, SpaceX,  existing, rocket, million,  lifting, SpaceX, Heavy, boosters,  pounds,

 Grammar Focus: Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Prepositions:  in, for, of, with, by,  on, at, to, as, into, across, around, over,  through, from, during, up, off,

Although delayed___ high-altitude winds, the countdown proceeded smoothly,___ any ___the glitches that have bedeviled other maiden launches___new rockets.

The Heavy roared ___life, a plume___smoke and steam shooting sideways ___the launchpad. It rose___the pad, with an impossibly bright glare ___27 engines___ it. Then a thunderous roar, traveling___the speed___sound, rolled ___ the spectators.

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions

Directions: Place students in groups Have each group list 3  questions they would like to ask any person mentioned in the article. Groups share questions as a class and try to answer them.

Group Project

How to Make a Water Rocket Launcher From NASA

Students can use simple tools to construct a soda bottle rocket launcher using  hardware and wood. Go to  Nasa.gov

ANSWER KEY

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Are You Prepared to Die for a Trip to Mars?

“The first people who fly with SpaceX to Mars should be ok with the possibility that the decision could cost them their lives, company founder and CEO Elon Musk said…I think the first journeys to Mars are going to be really very dangerous. The risk of fatality will be high; there’s just no way around it…for this reason, he would not suggest sending children on these flights.” M. Wall, Space.com

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

elon-musk-are-you-prepared-to-die-for-mars

elon-musk-are-you-prepared-to-die-for-mars

Excerpt: 1st Mars Colonists Should Be Prepared to Die Elon Musk Says By Mike Wall, Space.com

SpaceX aims to ferry 1 million people to the Red Planet over the next 50 to 100 years using the Interplanetary Transport System (ITS), a rocket-spaceship combo that Musk unveiled Tuesday (Sept. 27) during a talk at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico. (Well, he unveiled the ITS in concept; neither vehicle has been built yet.)

musk-has-hopes-of-colonising-mars-image-getty

musk-has-hopes-of-colonising-mars-image-getty

Musk painted a picture of a not-too-distant future in which 1,000 or more ITS spaceships, each loaded up with 100 or 200 settlers, zoom off toward Mars simultaneously from Earth orbit.

za-architects-propose-an-underground-colony-on-mars

za-architects-propose-an-underground-colony-on-mars

But it’s naïve to expect that everything will work perfectly from the start, he said. Musk said he’d like to go to Mars, but it’s unclear if he’ll be among the Red Planet vanguard.

credit-nasa

credit-nasa

I would definitely need to have a very good succession plan, because the probability of death is quite high on the first mission, and I’d like to see my kids grow up and everything — so, some pros and cons there.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. SpaceX aims to ferry 1 million people to the Red Planet.
  2. Spaceships  will move toward Mars simultaneously from Earth.
  3. It’s naïve to expect that everything will work perfectly.
  4. The risk of fatality will be high.
  5. Musk spoke In a teleconference with reporters.
  6. Musk will not be among the Mars vanguard.
  7. SpaceX  was developed chiefly to help humanity colonize Mars.
  8. Musk reiterated his  argument during the IAC presentation.
  9. There is always a risk of humanity’s extinction.
  10. It would be an incredible adventure.

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: The following sentences are from the article. Choose the correct word for each blank space from the word list  or make up your own words.

Musk has long___ that he ___SpaceX in 2002 ___to help ___colonize Mars. Becoming a multiplanet___ would ___as an insurance policy, minimizing the___ of humanity’s ___should something___ happen on Earth.

WORD LIST: terrible, species, said, risk, humanity, founded, chiefly,  extinction,serve

Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. The first journey to Mars will going to be really dangerous.
  2. The risk of fatality will be high.
  3. Setting up shop on Mars isn’t going to be a cakewalk.

II

  1. This is less about who goes there first.
  2. It’s worth the risk to become an multiplanetary species.
  3. Musk says the trip to Mars will be an incredible adventure.

III

  1. Life needs to be more  then just solving problems.
  2. It’s about protecting human life.
  3. This mission is also about having a tremendous sense of adventure.

 

Graphic Organizers: Finding the main idea

Directions: Students could use this  Topic/Concept/Theme organizer from Write Design to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main topic or theme of the article.

Advanced Spider map By writedesignonline

Create Questions

Directions: Place students in groups.  Have each group list 3  questions they would like to ask any person mentioned in the article. Groups share questions as a class.

Group Project: What Will Colonists Need on Mars?

Directions:  In groups make a list of the six most important items you think the first colonists on Mars would need to bring. The items should be necessary for survival.  The group can only choose six items! Get together as a class and create a new list of the six most important items.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

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