Frank Morring, Jr., Jen DiMascio, Amy Svitak, and Amy Butler, Aviation Week & Space Technology
The world’s increasingly enmeshed space launch industry has one more factor to consider as it struggles to accommodate the geopolitical uproar over Russia’s Crimean adventure. His name is Elon Musk.
Musk continues pushing hard to become the spaceflight mogul of the 21st century, suing the U.S. Air Force in an attempt to break into the national security market in the near term, while plotting a longer-term shift to reusable launches that has the “revolutionary” potential to change the way humans and their stuff leave the planet.
His strategy includes stocking his Washington operation with more defense lobbyists and tapping Capitol Hill allies for help in his once-quixotic battles against the powers that be in the military industrial complex.
Musk invited other potential competitors to join his company’s lawsuit and spent $174,000 on lobbying in the first quarter of this year, adding defense-issue lobbyists Michael Herson and Jeff Green to a stable that has long included international legal powerhouse Patton Boggs LLC for NASA issues. The beefed-up lobbying team apparently is achieving results on Capitol Hill.
After Musk announced his lawsuit, McCain, a longtime critic of Air Force procurement practices, asked Rymer to investigate the Air Force’s EELV awards. McCain calls the service’s rationale for limiting competitive launches “specious” in a letter to Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James.
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