Elon Musk’s ongoing war with the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding Tesla-related tweets comes during a critical week for another company in which his celebrity CEO status is undeniably interwoven: SpaceX.
The launch provider is targeting 2:49 a.m. Saturday for the premiere launch of a Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule, a critical uncrewed mission that will demonstrate to NASA its hardware is ready and safe for astronauts. It will mark the first time a commercially built, human-rated spacecraft meets with the International Space Station.
Crews haven’t launched to the orbiting outpost from American soil since the space shuttle program’s last flight in July 2011.During Musk’s first run-in with the SEC in late 2018, SpaceX unexpectedly found itself in the agency’s crosshairs: If certain waivers had not been obtained, the launch provider could have been unable to pursue specific forms of fundraising due to its ties to Musk.
Because Tesla, Musk and his statements were central figures of the SEC lawsuit, his private ventures became subject to limitations in the securities laws.
In the end, the issues were resolved, but that SpaceX could have found itself in such a position shows just how deeply Musk’s personality and presence are tied to his companies.Experts, however, agree that SpaceX has a strong hand with its president, Gwynne Shotwell. She is seen as the stable figure, experts say, and is responsible for day-to-day operations, as well as outside representation at many conferences and events.
“I would imagine that Air Force leadership is cognizant of Elon’s situation, but I doubt that it would in any way threaten their commitment to SpaceX as a core supplier of launch services,” space industry analyst Chris Quilty, president of Quilty Analytics in St. Petersburg, told FLORIDA TODAY.