News Column

World too small for Elon Musk

April 29, 2014

HE HAS been touted |for years as a man |who will change the world - a South-African educated billionaire |who made his name |as co-founder of PayPal and who runs Tesla Motors, the planet's |most famous electric |car firm.

But now the world is not enough for Elon Musk as he claims his share of outer space.

By tomorrow, Musk's other major venture, SpaceX, the California-based rocket company that he created in 2002, will file a lawsuit at the US Court of Federal Claims in Washington contesting the award, to a sole bidder, of a five-year multibillion-dollar Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle contract to launch 36 rockets carrying satellites and other payloads.

The implications of the lawsuit are huge for Musk, who claims the contract was not subject to a competitive bidding process. The Pentagon estimates that it will spend about $70bn (R746bn) on the space launches by 2030.

The contract, tendered by the US Air Force - which has the potential to be SpaceX's biggest customer - was awarded to United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of the engineering behemoths Lockheed Martin and Boeing, in December.

Musk highlighted a $1.6bn contract that SpaceX holds with Nasa to run resupply missions to the International Space Station. "It |just seems odd that if your vehicle is good enough for Nasa... |there is no reasonable basis for it not |being capable of |launching something quite simple like a GPS satellite," Musk added. |- Independent on Sunday

Pretoria News

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Source: Pretoria News (South Africa)

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