Elon Musk’s business suave is on the move yet again, just more than a month after he acquired Twitter in a multi-billion dollar deal. Now, the SpaceX founder is looking to expand its foray by creating a business unit solely focused on doing business with the US military.
SpaceX has a long history of working with the US federal government. Founded in 2002, SpaceX has become a leader in commercial spaceflight, launching many satellites for the Department of Defense (DoD), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and other governmental agencies. In 2008, NASA awarded SpaceX $1.6 billion to demonstrate that their rockets could fly cargo and crew safely to the International Space Station (ISS). Since then, SpaceX has been providing launch services for a variety of government missions.
More recently, SpaceX signed an agreement with the US Air Force to develop and launch its first GPS III satellite. The GPS III will be one of the most advanced navigation systems ever built, with increased accuracy and improved anti-jamming capabilities. This is just one example of how SpaceX is continuing to expand its partnership with the federal government. They also recently launched two communications satellites—the EchoStar 105/SES-11 mission—for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
According to an analysis by Euroconsult, a research firm specializing in satellite-based services, nearly half of SpaceX’s total launches over the past decade have been for governmental entities. These include military payloads for DoD as well as Earth observation missions for NASA and other space agencies around the world. In addition, SpaceX is currently contracted by NASA to provide crew transportation services from 2024 onward using its Dragon spacecraft.
Furthermore, reports show that since 2016 the US government has allocated the majority of its launch contracts to either United Launch Alliance or SpaceX. This shows how much trust both parties have in each other’s capabilities when it comes to launching sensitive payloads into orbit. As part of this agreement, SpaceX also provides technology transfer services to assist DoD scientists with developing new spacecraft systems and technologies.
With its new Starshield business unit introduced this December 2020, it is clear that SpaceX’s commitment to providing national security services will only continue to grow stronger over time. By leveraging existing relationships with DoD and intelligence communities while expanding its portfolio beyond launch services, Starshield promises to bring innovative new solutions, such as Earth observation capabilities, into play for both American citizens and global partners alike.
“SpaceX’s ongoing work with the Department of Defense and other partners demonstrates our ability to provide in-space and on-ground capability at scale,” the company said.
SpaceX’s Move to Monopolize the Military Tech Industry
Far from a straightforward answer, SpaceX’s new national security business unit Starshield and its relationship to the military tech industry is a complex question that warrants exploration. While SpaceX has an existing relationship with the Department of Defense and other partners, it is unclear what implications this will have for the competitive landscape regarding military technology. The company may be looking to monopolize specific capabilities within the industry or at least increase its market share.
One possible theory is that by creating Starshield, SpaceX may be trying to create a monopoly on certain types of military technologies. This could include space missions such as satellite launches, communications networks, and Earth observation capabilities. With these abilities under its control, SpaceX would have greater access to data which could give them an edge over competitors in advanced weapons development or other forms of technological advancement.
There are also concerns about how Starshield might affect competition in government contracts related to military technology. Many companies rely on these contracts for their revenue, and if SpaceX were able to seize a significant portion of them, other businesses could find themselves at risk of being pushed out. This could lead to a situation where only one company has access to certain areas of research and development, leading to potential monopolization in some industry sectors.
However, it is crucial to understand that it will take time for any monopoly situation to develop due to the large number of players currently involved in military technology research and development. Furthermore, many government agencies have strict rules about preventing monopolies, so any attempt by SpaceX would likely be met with resistance from regulatory bodies.
Ultimately, whether or not Elon Musk’s space exploration company is attempting to monopolize the military-tech industry remains to be determined at this stage. However, given its recent launch of Starshield and its existing relationships with key stakeholders in the field, further investigation into this matter appears warranted.