• One day soon, we could commute by air
  • We’re getting a first look at the Starlink rollout…
  • Deepfakes are even fooling the AIs

Dear Reader,

A couple of weeks ago, SpaceX successfully completed the third launch of its Starship SN10. It’s impressive in its size and scale. And what’s even cooler is that it doesn’t need a multibillion dollar launch pad to take off from.

The Starship simply takes off on its own from a launch pad in Boca Chica, TX.

Regular readers of The Bleeding Edge will remember the previous two launches, SN9 and SN8. Both were remarkable successes in terms of reaching their desired altitude and testing the “bellyflop” maneuver as a controlled descent back to Earth. They displayed the impressive flip from horizontal to vertical in order to prepare for a return landing.

Here’s what happened with SN10. SpaceX stuck the landing. It was absolutely awesome.

Starship SN10 Returns for a Soft Landing

Source: SpaceX

Yet if we trusted what the journalists wrote, SN10 just blew up. According to them, it was a failure.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. What SpaceX achieved was remarkable. On only the third try, SpaceX was able to launch something that looks like a fancy corn silo to an altitude of 10 kilometers and return it to the desired location back here on Earth.

If we look closely at the GIF above, we can see that while it nailed the landing perfectly, it hit the ground a bit hard. It was coming in at 10 meters per second, which is too fast. The bottom of the spacecraft was damaged.

This ultimately ended in an explosion a few minutes later. And that’s what the media focused on. What a shame.

This is history in the making.

SpaceX has mastered the three most critical aspects of returning the spacecraft to Earth in a condition where it can be used again for multiple launches. It was simply low on thrust on its landing, which is why it hit the landing pad too hard. That’s something that can be easily fixed.

We should be celebrating each and every launch. SpaceX is applying the same kind of rapid innovation tools and techniques used in Silicon Valley, and it’s applying them to really difficult “hardware” – like its starships. These methods are working.

SpaceX is learning and improving with every single launch. We shouldn’t be surprised to see a perfect landing on its next attempt.

And the best part is that SN11 has already been rolled out to the launch pad.

We won’t have to wait long before we find out. And I’ll be clapping and cheering no matter what happens.

At this rate of exponential improvement, it won’t be long before the first Starship makes it to orbit with a payload and returns to a launch pad to prepare for its next mission.

Now let’s turn to today’s insights…

Competition is heating up in the air mobility space…

Air taxi startup Volocopter just announced that it is going public via a special purpose acquisition corporation (SPAC). This is an exciting development.

Volocopter is a German-based company with an innovative aerospace design. It uses what looks like a unique wheel-and-spoke structure atop its aircraft with 18 electric rotors placed around the edges. Have a look:

Volocopter Aircraft

Source: Volocopter

This two-seater helicopter is currently flown by a pilot, but it is capable of being flown autonomously as well. That means it can carry one pilot and one passenger, or it can accommodate two passengers if flown autonomously. And of course, there is plenty of room for hand luggage.

Once in the air, the chopper can travel up to 22 miles with a cruise speed of 62 miles per hour (mph). And since it is entirely electric, the craft is virtually silent.

Volocopter envisions its aircraft being used for intracity travel. And the company has designed a small facility that will serve as the takeoff and landing platform. We can think of these as mini airports within a city.

Concept Art for “Volo-Port”

Source: VentureBeat

And Volocopter’s timeline is quite aggressive.

The goal is to launch commercially within the next two years or so. The company wants to have its air taxi services up and running in Paris ahead of the 2024 Olympics.

If it were just one company making aggressive claims, that would be one thing. But we’re seeing similar timelines from several industry players.

If we remember, the company that took over Uber’s air taxi unit, Joby Aviation, announced that it would go public through a SPAC just a few weeks ago.

And a week before that, United Airlines ordered 200 vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft from electric aircraft startup Archer Aviation.

It’s not often we get to watch a brand-new industry form in real time. This is a burgeoning space that will be fun to watch in the coming years.

Imagine being able to board a small aircraft to commute across town in a busy city, bypassing traffic entirely. For example, it can often take an hour or more to drive from New York City to Long Island. An air taxi could make that trip in less than 10 minutes.

I’ve used the New York City West 30th Street Heliport on many occasions to get from the city out to JFK to catch a flight. It’s very convenient, especially during busy hours. But normal helicopters are very noisy and expensive to fly.

So I’m very excited to see these developments in the air mobility space.

And thanks to the shift of capital into SPACs as an alternative to taking exciting companies public, early stage companies like Volocopter and Joby Aviation have easier access to the public markets than ever before.

This enables them to raise the capital they need to accelerate their timeline for launching commercial services. This is a great catalyst for technological development, and it’s why me and my team have been working so hard researching incredible SPAC opportunities in my Blank Check Speculator research service. (You can join us here.)

We’re going to be watching the air mobility industry closely. This is part of a much larger trend that I refer to as the future of transportation.

And we shouldn’t be surprised if we start to see these “mini airports” start to pop up in a city near us soon.

Starlink results are coming in…

SpaceX’s Starlink is a project we’ve been following closely here at The Bleeding Edge for the last several years. Its goal is to create a satellite network around the Earth that can provide internet access to anywhere on the planet.

And the beta version of Starlink’s satellite internet service just went live back in November.

Since then, Starlink has begun servicing more than 10,000 users with speeds averaging near 60 to 75 megabits per second (Mbps).

This is consistent with what we discussed last month. Starlink’s guidance has always been that users can expect speeds between 50 Mbps to 150 Mbps.

By comparison, the average cable TV internet service provides speeds between 200 and 300 Mbps. And it’s far less than the 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) speeds enabled by 5G wireless technology.

So Starlink isn’t going to replace our standard internet service, and it certainly can’t compete with our new fifth-generation wireless networks. But it is a great option for people living in underserved areas.

And that’s why SpaceX is rolling out its service first to people living on the northern border of the U.S. and the southern border of Canada. Here’s a look at the initial usage map during the beta period:

Source: PC Magazine

As we can see, coverage is now available in the more remote counties of Idaho, Western Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and a few spots in upper New England. Now I know why I’m still on the waiting list.

What’s important to remember is that this is still a beta service. That’s why the coverage is so limited for now. But coverage will expand rapidly as Starlink continues to launch more satellites each month.

So while satellite internet is no replacement for our standard broadband services or the new 5G wireless technology, it is great for people living in rural areas without access to a decent internet service provider.

And based on what we’re seeing, Starlink is going to offer some strong competition for incumbents in the satellite internet space. Starlink is several times faster than legacy satellite internet providers like HughesNet. That’s very good news for those who rely on satellite internet for connectivity.

We will continue to follow Starlink’s progress in these pages as its satellite-based internet service rolls out… as well as SpaceX’s master plan for Starlink.

The deepfakes are winning…

We’ll wrap up today with an update on the deepfake front.

Researchers in South Korea just tested whether artificial intelligence (AI) technology from Amazon and Microsoft could identify deepfakes. And the results were deeply concerning.

Regular readers of The Bleeding Edge will be familiar with the rise of “deepfake” technology.

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about how deepfake videos of Tom Cruise were popping up all over social media. These were videos of a figure who looked and sounded just like Tom Cruise… except the fake “Tom Cruise” was generated with the help of AI.

Obviously, this exacerbates a big problem. How do we know what information is and isn’t accurate on the internet? It turns out that AIs provided by Amazon and Microsoft can’t offer any help.

The research team in Korea created 8,119 deepfakes from a dataset of Hollywood movie stars, singers, athletes, and politicians. The team then fed these videos to an AI using advanced facial recognition technology to see if it could classify a deepfake correctly.

As it turns out, Microsoft’s Azure Cognitive Services was fooled 78% of the time. Amazon’s Rekognition wasn’t much better at 68.7%. And Rekognition even gave 28% of the deepfakes a higher confidence score than the same celebrity’s real image.

Deepfake Celebrity Impersonations

Source: VentureBeat

Talk about concerning. These are AI-based facial recognition technologies being created by some of the biggest companies in the world, but even they can’t tell the difference between a real person and a deepfake.

This shows us just how difficult it is becoming to discern whether material on the internet is real or not. And I have to wonder how we can police deepfakes if bleeding-edge AI technology cannot identify them.

The technology community desperately needs to come up with a solution.


Jeff Brown
Editor, The Bleeding Edge

P.S. Early stage companies like Volocopter aren’t the only ones looking to go public.

Through March 15 of last year, 37 companies had gone public. They raised an incredible $10.2 billion from the public markets.

But this year, we’re witnessing something I told readers about in my 2021 prediction series: 2021 will be a record year for capital raised from IPOs. It will surpass even the record-breaking figures we saw last year.

So far, we’ve already witnessed 320 companies going public, raising a gargantuan sum of $110.2 billion so far. It’s a breakneck pace that isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

But most of these IPOs are hitting the market at excessive valuations. Investors are getting lured into buying into the headlines and fanfare. In doing so, they will almost certainly lose money.

However, there’s a small subset of tech companies that are still being overlooked. They don’t go public at eye-popping valuations. And they enter the public markets much earlier in their life cycles than companies like Uber and Slack, for instance.

I’ve been studying this small subset of the tech sector for years. And what I found is an extraordinary opportunity.

Thanks to the federal government, these stocks go public with a timer attached to their share prices. And once the timer hits zero, they can explode hundreds of percent in days or even hours.

That’s why I call these “Timed Stocks.”

It may sound too incredible to believe, but I’ve used this strategy to generate investment gains of 185% on average with a typical holding period of just eight months.

That’s nearly tripling your money in a short period of time.

And thanks to an even larger pipeline of opportunities than I’ve ever seen before, I’m ready to talk about these timed stocks publicly again.

It’s why I’m hosting an investment summit on this topic in just a couple of days. We’re calling it Timed Stocks: Final Countdown. It will happen on Thursday, March 18, at 8 p.m. ET.

What are “Timed Stocks”? And how are we able to potentially generate triple-digit returns on them so quickly? Please tune in to find out. I’ll answer these questions and more that night.

As always, the event will be free to readers of The Bleeding Edge. Just go right here to reserve your spot.