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Physical Economy and Technology Report for June 27, 2024

This latest report shines the spotlight on innovative American companies pushing the boundaries of space technology, nuclear power, and steel manufacturing. Meanwhile, China's rapid progress in these areas serves as a timely reminder that intention and credit can achieve remarkable results.
Physical Economy and Technology Report for June 27, 2024
A Joby EVTOL aircraft at Edwards Air Force base where it is undergoing testing.

In this edition we note a couple of impressive American space, nuclear, and steel developments, but we also take note of rapidly building Chinese capabilities. As President Trump and Elon Musk have recently repeated, the regulatory barriers to productive activity in the United States are far more destructive than any possible taxation. The founder of Radiant put it another way: technical problems can be overcome, our biggest difficulties are people problems.

The rapid progress in China demonstrates what unity of intention and credit can accomplish. Once we unite America behind our vision of the future, we can rapidly transform our broken-down country into the center of scientific and industrial progress.

  • Musk Gives Tour of New Starfactory and Postflight Review
  • SpaceX Spinoff, Radiant, Is Building Portable Nuclear Power
  • Joby CEO Gives Tour of Its EVTOL Development Plant
  • China Returns Samples from Lunar Far Side
  • China's Building of 150 Nuclear Plants Demonstrates the Difference That Intention Makes
  • Energy Singularity Builds World’s First Fully High-Temperature Superconducting Tokamak
  • China's Cosco is Completing South America's Biggest Deep-Sea Port
  • A Better Way to Make Steel?
  • Wall Street Journal Discovers Young Tradesmen Making Physical Work Cool Again

Musk Gives Tour of New Starfactory and Postflight Review

Right before the successful fourth launch of the Starship/Superheavy rocket a couple of weeks back, Elon Musk gave a tour of the new Starfactory going up near the launch tower. The Starfactory will enable efficient, high-production rates as the pace of flight testing and early commercial operations picks up. The fifth test launch is expected to take place in July and will likely include landing the Superheavy back at the launch pad and testing of an upgraded heat-shield system on the Starship. This following 2 videos cover the new factory, Starship aerodynamics, and a postflight review of the fourth test flight.

Take a tour of the Starfactory!

Discussion of aerodynamics of Starship, and postflight review with Musk.

SpaceX Spinoff, Radiant, Is Building Portable Nuclear Power

Radiant Nuclear is building a small (1.2 MWe) High Temperature Gas Reactor (HTGR) that can be transported by Starship, C-17, or truck. They aim to deliver their first product in 18 months and proceed to mass production both for the Moon and Mars and deployments on Earth that would replace diesel generation in many remote situations.

Making Nuclear Power Portable

An Introduction to Radiant's mobile HTGR nuclear reactor.

Interview with Radiant's CEO, Doug Bernauer.

Joby CEO Gives Tour of Its EVTOL Development Plant

There are about 200 companies worldwide which are developing flying cars or Electric Vertical Takeoff or Landing (EVTOL) aircraft for urban and regional movement of people. As is the case with SpaceX, Joby is heavily vertically integrated--even to the point of producing its own avionics electronics. Joby has partnered with Toyota and Delta Airlines to produce an air taxi service. The goal is to produce cheap, quiet, safe, convenient, and rapid air mobility on the Uber or Lyft model—or maybe on the model of the Jetsons. Whether or not Joby or other companies working in this general area can achieve all their objectives, the technology is very impressive and will inevitably lead to great results of one sort or other.

Take a tour of the Joby plant.

More on Joby and emerging EVTOL technologies.

China Returns Samples from the Lunar Far Side

China keeps making steady progress in space technology. On June 25th, Chang'e 6 returned about 4 pounds of regolith to China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Samples will soon be distributed to researchers around the world. Also, Aviation Week reports that China's state launch provider CASC has completed China's most complex test of reusable rocket technology (similar to the Falcon 9 technology of SpaceX) in a hop test. Several other private Chinese companies are also developing and testing similar technologies. A unique booster capture technology using moving cables is being designed for the Long March 10 heavy lift system.

China returns samples from the moon’s far side in historic 1st (video)
The lunar material touched down in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region early Tuesday morning (June 25).

China's Building of 150 Nuclear Plants Demonstrates the Difference That Intention Makes

China is building 150 nuclear reactors at a pace of 6-8 a year. They are taking the lead in many industrial areas--simply due to intention. They are deliberately pursuing progress, while, in the United States, the British imperial overlords have imposed "environmental" cannibalization. Now, many former environmentalists who promoted interruptible power sources for decades are suddenly realizing that, even in order to build AI capabilities (not to mention mining, steel, manufacturing, etc.), baseload power must be built up. The new Trump administration must cut through the impediments to building nuclear power, both for power and space propulsion.

How Innovative Is China in Nuclear Power?
Though China built upon a foreign base of technology, it has become the world’s leading proponent of nuclear energy. Chinese firms are well ahead of their Western peers, supported by a whole-of-government strategy that provides extensive financing and systemic coordination.



Energy Singularity Builds World’s First Fully High-Temperature Superconducting Tokamak

The Chinese fusion company, Energy Singularity of Shanghai, has built the world’s first fully high-temperature superconducting tokamak. Named the HH70, it uses superconducting magnets made of easily manufactured Rare Earth Barium Copper Oxide. The fact that these superconductors can be superconductive at relatively high temperatures (compared to early superconductors) makes the design more efficient. And the fact that the magnets are superconductive, and therefore much more powerful, allows the dimensions of the machine to be a tiny fraction of the size of early tokamaks. Commonwealth Fusion Systems (a spinoff of MIT) is building what it calls the "world’s first commercially-relevant net energy fusion machine, called SPARC." It would appear that SPARC and HH70 are using similar technology approaches. Helion is expecting to produce its first net electricity output from its Polaris machine this summer. We are awaiting word on that.

China reveals fusion tech breakthrough
The world’s first high-temperature superconducting tokamak has been tested in China, marking a key step towards commercial nuclear fusion
CFS-MIT High-Field Magnet Technology for Commercial Fusion Experimentally Validated
The fastest path to clean, limitless fusion energy.

China's Cosco is Completing South America's Biggest Deep-Sea Port

Peru's Chancay will become a giant logistics center serving South America and the Indian and Pacific Ocean nations.

Washington Frets As Chinese Company Cosco Wraps Up Construction of South America’s Largest Deep Sea Port | naked capitalism
“Due to its potential size and volume of operations, Peru’s Chancay mega-port is destined to become a nerve centre of international trade.” And it will be exclusively controlled by Cosco.

‎A Better Way to Make Steel?

An MIT professor, Donald Sadoway, figured out how to make an electrolysis anode (positive terminal) that can survive the environment of molten iron, and, thereby, enable the conversion of iron ore into iron and steel using electrolysis. This is a perfect marriage for nuclear power. He and his colleagues formed a company, Boston Metal, which is now building a refinery due to be up and running next year. This new technology removes an array of expensive and complex processes involved in current steelmaking technology. So, it promises to be cheaper, cleaner, and able to process rare elements from low-concentration ore and waste--one of Edison's last projects. Rebuilding the United States requires such a leap in technology!

High-Value Metals - Boston Metal
Innovative metals processing

The Wall Street Journal Discovers Young Tradesmen Who Are Making Physical Work Cool Again

The Wall Street Journal covers a largely organic growth in interest in trades, based on young people using social media to promote them.