WASHINGTON, February 7, 2018: It was not uncommon during the Clinton and Obama years to hear the word “investment” applied to Federal subsidies earmarked for private companies, like those currently involved in the solar, wind and electric car sectors like Tesla and SpaceX. But over time, how have those taxpayer-funded “investments” panned out?
Tesla: Investing in failure
Solar panel manufacturer Solyndra cost U.S. taxpaying investors $535 million before going belly up, while Nordic Windpower cost overtaxed Americans a more modest $16 million before it gave up the ghost.
And then, there’s Obama’s beloved Federal government partnership with Elon Musk’s electric car, solar panel and rocket companies, with the former pair gathered together under the Tesla label.
Spacemen and boondoggles
Back in 2010, Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, expressed his concern regarding the Obama administration’s lack of commitment to America’s space program,
“The absence of a master plan that is understood and supported by government, industry, academia and society as a whole frustrates everyone. NASA itself, riven by conflicting forces and the dashed hopes of canceled programs, must find ways of restoring hope and confidence to a confused and disconsolate work force,” said Armstrong in testimony to Congress.
Apollo 13 Commander James Lovell, who successfully navigated his damaged spacecraft back to Earth in 1970, criticized the administration’s plan to place the future of American manned spaceflight in the hands of a SpaceX, saying such a move would present “no challenges, has no focus, and in fact is a blueprint for a mission to nowhere.”
“I was very sad to see that,” Elon Musk told Scott Pelly of 60 Minutes, “because those guys are heroes of mine, so it’s really tough. I wish they would visit [SpaceX] and see the hardware we’re doing here. And I think that would change their mind.”
A sympathetic Pelly added,
“They inspired you to do this, didn’t they? And to see them casting stones in your direction is difficult?”
A tearful Musk nodded in agreement.
A boondoggle that works
In 2017, Musk’s SpaceX sent 18 of its spacecraft into earth orbit, some to resupply the International Space Station, at a cost of $61 million per launch, or $1.1 billion for the year.
According to the Los Angeles Times,
“Tesla Motors Inc., SolarCity Corp. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp, known as SpaceX, together have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government support… The figure underscores a common theme running through his [Musk’s] emerging empire: a public-private financing model underpinning long-shot start-ups,” said the Times.
At approximately 3:45 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday, February 6, a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launched from Cape Canaveral’s Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the same launch pad used by Apollo 11 astronauts Neal Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins before their historic first flight to the lunar surface.
In the Falcon Heavy rocket’s cargo bay, nestled comfortably, was a Tesla Roadster with a mannequin wearing a spacesuit and perched behind the steering wheel.
The same Federally-subsidized Tesla Roadster, now rocketing its way to Mars, will cost auto enthusiasts a tidy $200,000 to drive off the lot.
Naturally, SpaceX positioned cameras aboard its star trekking automobile to capture what had to be the most expensive taxpayer-supported commercial for a government-subsidized millionaire’s car in Earth history.