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Second Starship Flight Test is a Success, Atomic Hydrocarbon Fuels

Howdy! Back from a short hiatus, and today’s newsletter is on Saturday in honor of the Starship launch.

Let’s get into it, this week we have:
- Starship makes an epic second flight
- Hydrocarbon Fuels from Nuclear Power
- KittyCad starts touring hard tech startups in new video series

Second Starship Flight Test is a Success

Starship launched this morning and successfully performed a hot-stage separation. The booster separated from the spacecraft and subsequently exploded shortly after.

Starship made it to an altitude of at least 90 miles, firmly placing it in space! The spacecraft was intentionally destroyed a few minutes into it’s flight post-separation.

While the Starship exploded, today was undoubtedly an epic success. The team has made incredible progress since it’s first launch attempt.

There’s not a ton of information on what happened post separation to the spacecraft but it in the mean time here are some epic pictures from the event.

Hydrocarbon Fuel from Nuclear power

Isaiah Taylor, a self-described Kardashev scale climber, recently unveiled his startup and announced an initial funding round of $1.5m from Riot Ventures. The idea: Valar Atomics will use nuclear power to make fuel (like gasoline) from the air.

Sounds unintuitive, right? Why would we use Nuclear energy to then make a hydrocarbon fuel? Why not just generate electricity?

I’ll let Palmer Luckey explain, here’s a portion of the transcript from his recent interview on Invest Like the Best, where he breaks down this exact idea.

The TL;DR is storing and transporting electricity is expensive and requires a huge amount of infrastructure spending. We already have the infrastructure to quickly move hydrocarbon fuels around the world and they’re incredibly energy dense. If we had a cheap and environmentally freindly way to produce hydrocarbon fuels, it’d be a huge plus for society.

Valar Atomics plans to build nuclear reactors far from where people live, so they’re less expensive. Since they’re using the nuclear power to synthesize fuels, they then can take advantage of the high energy density and existing infrastructure to get energy where it needs to go fast and cheap.

I’m excited to see Isaiah tackle this audacious vision.

Valar Atomics is hiring Chemical, Mechanical, and Electrical Engineers. If you’re interested in their vision, you can reach Isaiah on X.

Quick Links

Zane, whose Defense Tech startup we previously featured, reminds us that young folks can accomplish great things.

There’s some subset of engineers who think you have to “put in your time” for decades before starting something important. I don’t believe it.

Lots of hard tech founders are young and unproven, but are audacious enough to tackle big and important problems.

Christian from Astranis posted some incredibly cool anechoic chambers from the US Air Force. These rooms are designed to stop echoes / reflections of sound and/or electromagnetic waves.

The KittyCAD crew take a tour of Machina Labs, interviewing the founder and other folks on the team. Machina Labs uses robots to precisely form sheetmetal.

It’s part of their new video series “Nerds on Patrol” where they visit and interview people at hard tech companies. Worth a watch!

That’s it for this week!

See y’all next week, we should be back to our weekly cadence now. 🫡