Rivals: Musk's SpaceX Is an 'Anti-American' Empire

Critics gripe to 'NYT,' claiming space launch company is no 'accidental monopoly'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2024 6:42 AM CDT
Rivals: Musk's Space Efforts Are No 'Accidental Monopoly'
Elon Musk arrives at an event in Los Angeles on April 13.   (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

Elon Musk's SpaceX is the topic of conversation in the latest deep dive by the New York Times into his business practices, and the upshot is: His rivals aren't happy. They claim that although SpaceX is now a major player in the space launch arena, with NASA and the Defense Department both relying heavily on the company's launch services—last year, SpaceX nabbed $3.1 billion in federal prime contracts—Musk is also "increasingly using his vast power and influence to try to keep emerging rivals at bay," per the Times.

The paper interviews some of Musk's competitors, who detail SpaceX moves such as the company slashing its prices to undercut smaller firms, or moving to block other launch companies from raising funds. "I don't think this is an accidental monopoly," aerospace engineer Peter Beck, CEO of Rocket Lab, tells the paper. "These are business decisions that are being made."

The Times notes no one is trying to take away from SpaceX's accomplishments, especially for "making spaceflight more affordable and almost routine." But in addition to concerns over anticompetitive schemes, those complaining are also worried about the US government relying so heavily on a "fickle billionaire" who has promoted antisemitic theories and pushed other "divisive statements." "It's anti-competitive and anti-American and I don't like it," Phantom Space founder Jim Cantrell tells the Times.

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SpaceX didn't comment to the Times, but a senior company exec said in a recent interview, "I don't buy that" in response to accusations of anticompetitive practices. Earlier this year, Musk pointed out his space exploration collaborations with some competitors to his Starlink service, noting, "We treat everyone fairly." Much more here on the anti-competition allegations. Meanwhile, Business Insider examines further just how well Musk runs his companies from an HR perspective, while the Information publishes a SpaceX org chart showing Musk isn't really running the show. (More SpaceX stories.)

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