This Week in Elon: Musk Mocks Biden Amid Cooler Political Climate, Federal Investigation of Tesla

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It seems that Elon Musk is a bit peeved that President Joe Biden didn’t congratulate SpaceX on completing the privately-funded Inspiration4 crewed mission last week and helping to raise $210 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“He’s still sleeping,” Musk wrote in response to a question from a Twitter follower about Biden’s silence. It was a clear reference to ex-President Donald Trump’s description of him as “sleepy Joe” during the campaign.

The remark set off the usual battle on social media. Musk’s legion of defenders called the omission unforgivable. Musk’s critics noted his willingness to amply praise authoritarian China where Musk’s Tesla Motors has a manufacturing plant even as he called U.S. officials “fascists” for their efforts to contain the deadly COVID-19 virus.

For his part, Jared Isaacman, the billionaire who funded and commanded the Inspiration4 flight, says Biden’s silence is no big deal.

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Senate Commerce Committee Schedules April 21 Hearing on Bill Nelsons Nomination to Head NASA

Florida Senator Bill Nelson

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a nomination hearing at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 to consider the presidential nominations of Bill Nelson to be National Aeronautics and Space Administration Administrator and Lina Khan to be a Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission.

Witnesses:

  • The Honorable Bill Nelson, to be National Aeronautics and Space Administration Administrator
  • Ms. Lina Khan, to be Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission

Hearing Details:

Wednesday, April 21, 2021
10:00 a.m. EDT
Full Committee (Hybrid)

SR-253

This hearing will take place in the Russell Senate Office Building 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

*In order to maintain physical distancing as advised by the Office of the Attending Physician, seating for credentialed press will be limited throughout the course of the markup. Due to current limited access to the Capitol complex, the general public is encouraged to view this markup via the live stream. 

Raytheon to Challenge Lockheed Martin Acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne, Extended Regulatory Review Likely

Raytheon said it will challenge Lockheed Martin’s planned acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne on anti-trust grounds amid reports that federal regulators will extend their review of the deal. Bloomberg reports:

“They are a huge supplier to us, and if that merger actually happens, you don’t have an independent supplier on the solid-rocket-motor side. And also, I think it gives us pause as we think about the competitive landscape going forward,” Raytheon Chief Executive Officer Greg Hayes said Wednesday at the Barclays Industrial Select virtual conference.

The proposed $4.4 billion deal would have a top competitor absorb a key supplier of solid rocket motors used in Raytheon’s missile systems. Hayes said the company would relay its concerns about the deal to the U.S. antitrust authorities and the Defense Department.

Lockheed announced the acquisition in December in an effort to expand expand its foray into missile defense and futuristic space travel, targeting higher sales and cost savings as defense budgets tighten.

Reuters reports that the Federal Trade Commission is likely to extend its 60-day review of the planned acquisition, which was due to expire at midnight on Thursday.

The $4.4 billion dollar deal, announced late last year, has raised eyebrows because Lockheed would take over a company that produces 70% of the solid fuel rocket motors and other propulsion products used in everything from antiballistic missiles, to air-to-air missiles.

Lockheed’s CEO, Jim Taiclet, said the deal could put Lockheed into a strong position in the growing propulsion and hypersonic weapons market.

Still, Taiclet has said Lockheed would simultaneously remain a partner to Aerojet’s current customer base by “providing outstanding propulsion products for the entire industry.”