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Military Now a Big Client of Elon Musk

(Noted News) — Elon Musk’s SpaceX has gone from being an eccentric novelty company to a high-ticket contractor for the United States’ military-industrial complex. In the past few months, Musk and SpaceX have scooped up a nice collection of huge deals as it enters a new chapter of its life. 

In August, SpaceX won a $316 million contract to build secret space launches for the U.S. Airforce and has been confirmed to be in charge of at least a dozen launches up to 2026, accounting for about 40% of all the launches. The other 60% will be fulfilled by Boeing and Lockheed Martin, who used to have a monopoly over the market. 

In October, SpaceX snagged a $149 million deal with the Space Development Agency to create an early version of small satellites designed to track and monitor high-speed missiles, which is one of the Pentagon’s highest priorities in military technology developments.

Also in October, SpaceX signed a humble but significant $2 million contract to help provide upgraded weather data for the US military.

On November 6, SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral with the US Space Force’s newest GPS satellite, setting the table for SpaceX’s first Crew Dragon astronaut mission set to take place later in November. 

SpaceX has a total of $5 billion worth of civilian launch contracts, $6 billion worth of orders for military rocket launches and satellites, and about $9 billion worth of orders from NASA, mostly for transporting cargo to astronauts in the International Space Station. 

SpaceX, whose real name is Space Exploration Technologies, holds most of their new military contracts within relatively nascent technologies, which depend on huge amounts of funding for research and development, but also have higher upside potential in the long term. 

These developments come amid rising geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and various superpowers, perhaps increasing the need for technological advancements in the military sector.

According to Steve Nutt, professor of materials science and aerospace engineering at the University of Southern California, SpaceX’s technology fills a much-needed demand from the US Department of Defense (DoD) who needs to transport supplies around the world (and space) much quicker.

“The rockets that SpaceX has been asked to supply would address that need—delivering hardware and support supplies rapidly to anywhere in the world,” Nutt said.

According to The Times, these SpaceX rockets can transport 80 tons of cargo from Florida to Afghanistan, a 7,652-mile journey, in about an hour. In comparison, the US C-17 Globemaster, the US military’s current transport aircraft of choice, would take 15 hours to complete this journey, while costing $218 million.

“The days of heavily armored tanks and lumbering trucks are fading,” Nutt said, as they are “too easy to target and destroy.” 

To reduce the risk of casualties and damage by getting in and out of an area before an enemy attack, the DoD wants to “to deploy forces quickly, preferably without detection,” according to Nutt,

“The US military is retooling and adjusting for future conflicts… Unfortunately, I think we’re entering another arms race.”

While Elon Musk is propelling SpaceX into the military-industrial complex, Tesla has also been making moves with everything from building new factories, to coming out with a new $250 tequila, which comes in a bottle shaped like a lightning bolt and that apparently has a “dry fruit and light vanilla nose with a balanced cinnamon pepper finish.” 

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