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America Needs to Root for Elon Musk

SpaceX Rocket Takeoff
SpaceX Rocket Takeoff

Elon Musk Continues Marching Forward: Earlier this week, Elon Musk delighted pyromaniacs (like myself) and curious onlookers with a flashy fireworks display at his Boca Chica Starbase facility in Texas. Of course, this was not what Musk intended. His innovative company, SpaceX, was testing its newest Starship rocket design that is meant to ferry human beings from the Earth to Mars within the decade. 

Most scientists and engineers understand that this is part of the process of innovation. Once you create an innovation, you must apply it in the real-world to see how effective—and safe—it will be. This is why test flights, shakedown cruises, beta tests, and longitudinal studies are required for new rockets, warships, software, and vaccines, for example. 

It’s part of a larger iterative process that’s meant to iron out the flaws of any new product and create the best version of that product that’s compatible with public use. 

This happens endlessly in the private sector. 

If You’re Rooting for Musk to Fail, Move to China

Yet, when SpaceX has a rocket launch failure, the mainstream media celebrates with as much intensity as the members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Politburo do at the sight of American rockets failing to properly launch. Because those are the stakes here. America’s ability to get to Mars (and the moon) before the Chinese can. 

And whether our blinkered press or lunatic political class care to acknowledge it, Beijing is very much in a new space race with the United States—this time for total dominance of the strategic high ground of space. 

For China, dominating space is not just a political matter. It’s partly symbolic. More to the point, though, China’s dominance of space means that they will control the future of humanity

It will be Chinese taikonauts who build, possibly along with their new Russian allies, a permanent military base on the lunar surface. 

Chinese taikonauts who will raise the red communist flag on the surface of Mars. 

It will be Chinese anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons that are deployed to conduct a ferocious Space Pearl Harbor—when the United States least expects it—to knock out and blind America in space so that China’s military can roughshod over America’s vulnerable military on Earth. 

Chinese state-owned firms will benefit from the trillions of dollars’ worth of mineable rare Earth minerals in space, rather than American private firms. 

All this is because the Americans have failed to prioritize its national space policy and to merge those once-robust capabilities with the innovativeness of the private sector. SpaceX has done one thing that no other firm or country has managed to do: provide low-cost launches for any payload, civilian or military. What’s more, SpaceX is proudly all-American. Their rockets are built here in the United States. They are staffed overwhelmingly by Americans, too. 

Elon Musk: Ideological Deviationist

Unfortunately, though, the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, is (as the CCP might say) an “ideological deviationist.”

In the 2010s, like most Silicon Valley types, Musk was a proud supporter of then-President Barack Obama. Indeed, SpaceX was awarded its initial tranche of contracts under the Obama Administration (though the company had to sue the Air Force to get them to honor those early contracts). Elon Musk, however, is not an automaton. He prides himself—as most successful people do—on being a free thinker

Musk engendered antipathy from the Left when he had no problem working with (and benefiting from) a healthy relationship with the controversial Trump Administration

In fact, SpaceX thrived under the Trump Administration. This was because former President Trump, unlike his predecessor, had a grand strategic vision for what I have dubbed as, “Space Dominance”. Trump wanted to maximize America’s advantages in space before the Chinese and the Russians could catch up with the United States, as they were by the time that Obama left office. 

The elephantine bureaucracy of NASA was unable to rise to the occasion both because of inertia and because the organization was overpopulated with Trump-haters. Even when Jim Bridenstine was named as the NASA director under Trump, he experienced great difficulty reining in a bureaucratic beast that had been left unattended and allowed to grow in unintended ways between the end of the Cold War and the rise of Donald Trump’s “Space Dominance” strategy. 

Musk, with his cheap, reusable rockets, could fill the gaps that the NASA bureaucracy had allowed to form since they mothballed their heavy-lift rockets at the end of the Apollo Program and when Obama shuttered the space shuttle program in 2010. 

Musk’s technology, unlike the government’s, has not remained stagnant. It has evolved and it was part of Musk’s larger vision of getting to Mars as soon as possible. Working with the US government to augment their ailing space program also helped Musk enhance his reusable rockets.

In 30 years, despite its large budget, massive workforce, and global reach, NASA has remained inert—particularly in the manned spaceflight program (the only real program that people care about). 

Musk came in, and for a fraction of the cost is propelling that once frozen-in-place program forward. He did this, at a time when competition with China is reaching Cold War-era levels. Unlike America’s old Soviet foe, though, China is a highly sophisticated and wealthy nation with a remarkably high standard-of-living and education. 

The Left Would Rather Lose Space to China Than Let Musk Win It For America

But America’s Left-wing political class and media elites hate Musk for having veered off the ideological plantation. They resent him for giving a fair voice to the Right on his new social media platform, Twitter. 

They despise him for doing what they apparently cannot do for a pittance of what it costs NASA. What’s more, they dislike Musk for being uncontrollable. He is not bought-and-paid-for by the Left the way so many of our billionaire class are. Musk sees it as completely reasonable to be a fan of President Obama as well as a partner with President Trump.

In fact, despite Trump’s brash persona, he is actually a moderate New York Republican who has much in common with Barack Obama (they just dislike each other immensely on a personal level).

Beyond that, Musk aggravated the government when he indicated that any potential SpaceX colony on Mars would either fall under international law (much how Antarctica does today) or under the ambiguous SpaceX corporate regulations. 

In this, it is understandable why some in government would have a beef with the maverick innovator. After all, US tax dollars support his company. His biggest project is the Mars program that SpaceX is desperately trying to launch and federal subsidies help SpaceX to fund these operations. 

Nevertheless, Musk has demonstrated a proven ability to deliver—at cost—remarkable capabilities to the US military and the private sector. He outstrips NASA and most other competitors because he has fundamentally democratized space by lowering the barriers of launch with his impressive fleet of reusable rockets. 

Rooting for Musk to Fail

Abusing regulations to punish Musk for his purported ideological deviationism will only undermine the United States and empower the Chinese in this mad, violent, and uncertain new space race. 

Elon Musk and his so-called failures aren’t even failures. They’re part of the innovation learning curve that gets us one step closer to taking the stars before the Communist Chinese can. 

Get out of his way already. Root for America.

A 19FortyFive Senior Editor, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.

Written By

Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who recently became a writer for Weichert is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as a contributing editor at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (March 28), and Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.