Although SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has no qualms attacking regulators, officials at the Pentagon, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Defense and the Federal Aviation Administration are becoming aware of his influence, with many treating him with respect as if he were an unelected official. . , The New Yorker reports.
“The government now counts on him, but struggles to respond to his risk-taking, brinkmanship and whims,” Ronan Farrow writes.
That’s why — even as Musk’s vision of humanitarian endeavors in space and contributions to Ukraine’s defense against Russia through his Starlink cybernetic continues to expand his power — it was somewhat surprising Thursday when the US Department of Justice sued the company-owned missile. mask. The satellite company SpaceX allegedly discriminated against asylum seekers and refugees in its employment practices.
The sweeping reveal oscillates between portraying Musk as a brilliant, impulsive visionary, and a pragmatic capitalist with republican-leaning instincts.
Overriding those descriptions is the fact that national security officials and NASA have accepted Musk as a leader in technology, communications and the space race, according to the comprehensive dossier based on interviews with 30 of Musk’s current and former colleagues.
SpaceX is at the heart of all entrepreneurial ventures, as well as Musk’s psyche. SpaceX is by far the most powerful of the private space exploration companies, including Jeff Bezos’ Blue Horizon and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.
NASA relies exclusively on SpaceX to get American crews into space and will continue to rely on Musk for at least the next year.
The mercurial billionaire not only embraces humanity’s future by landing a manned spaceship on Mars, but much more importantly how a new space race could reshape the global balance of power.
“The US government is trying to catch up on building a more resilient space architecture,” says Colin Kahl, a former undersecretary of defense for policy at the Pentagon. “And that will only work if you can benefit from the explosion of commercial space.”
Some praise Musk’s ability to bypass the red tape of strict regulations and safety protocols to get things done.
“When SpaceX and NASA work together, we’re working closer to optimal speed,” says Kenneth Powersox, NASA’s associate administrator for space operations.
For others, Musk’s undue influence is irksome.
“There’s only one thing worse than a government monopoly,” says Jim Bridenstine, former NASA administrator. “And this is a private monopoly on which the government relies. I worry that we put all our eggs in one basket, and that is SpaceX.
No matter how easy it is to deal with Musk’s power or political leanings, he has become a powerful player to deal with. Musk has courted China through his electric car company Tesla, and he has a huge presence there.
SpaceX has received at least $15.3 billion in subsidies from the US government in the past 20 years, and the Biden administration, frantically seeking to reduce US dependence on fossil fuels, has come to the conclusion that it needs to work with Musk.
This includes the help of Tesla and its expanding network of charging stations. Even General Motors and Mercedes are joining Tesla’s charging network.
Another factor: Musk’s personal fortune of $231 billion outpaces the entire budget of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, which has continued to find problems with Tesla Autopilot and self-driving cars.
Summarizing the Biden administration and the US government’s stance toward Musk, Jordan Barab, former deputy assistant secretary of labor at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, might best say it:
“Add to that the fact that he considers himself the master of the universe, and those rules don’t apply to people like him.”