Elon Musk’s Tesla Unveils Powerwall: Coming to a Mars Hab Near You

Image Credit: Tesla Motors

Last week, Tesla Motors unveiled its new “non automotive” product line, and as anyone who has been following the company already knew, it was a home battery pack, named Powerwall. If you have not yet seen the 18 minute event, there are far less productive ways to start your week.

Innerspace has routinely covered Tesla Motors for two reasons. One is obvious, and the other is only slightly less so. As the founder and CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk’s similar position at Tesla Motors is of particular interest, and it is a relationship which potentially at least, exists in a precarious balance. Major events, either good or bad, at one company have the possibility of influencing the other.

The April 30th Tesla event, held at the company’s Hawthorne, Ca. design studio, just down the street from SpaceX, highlights the remarkable, and sometimes even incalculable upside of that relationship. If Musk’s ambitions are borne out, Powerwall represents much more than a surprisingly affordable ($3,500 / 10kWh) home battery pack. It is the lowest common denominator in an energy storage solution which could profoundly change the world economy and speed a transition toward solar and renewable energy. The truly critical component however, is the industrial sized big brother to Powerwall, the 100 kWh Powerpack which Musk says is infinitely scalable. How far and how fast the conversion takes place here on Earth remains to be seen, but there seems to be little doubt that Tesla has now introduced the missing component.

And that brings us to the second reason Innerspace covers Tesla Motors. The conversion from fossil fuels to solar and renewable energy sources, while vitally important to many on Earth, speaks to a technology which is absolutely indispensable to a free and open future in space. Although there is no doubt that there are many potential space technologies and destinations which could benefit from nuclear power, it is equally true that they are a non-starter for any private missions, habitats, colonies etc. A company like Tesla, or an energy revolution on Earth, is of course not strictly needed for understanding that basic fact, but the role it can play in moving a key component from “need to develop” to “off the shelf” should not be underestimated.

The bottom line is this. Even though he mentioned space only once during the event,  (and in a negative context at that),  last week Elon Musk unveiled to the world the battery packs which will eventually adorn the walls of the first habitats on Mars as well as the larger system which can provide night time power for the Red Planet’s first cities. Now, if only someone were working on a way to get them there…..

Posted in: Mars, SpaceX, Tesla

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