Wed. Feb 21st, 2024

Tesla CEO Elon Musk arrives for a U.S. Senate bipartisan Synthetic Intelligence Perception Discussion board on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 13, 2023.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Pictures

WASHINGTON — Three Democratic members of the Senate Committee on Armed Companies have requested the Pentagon for details about SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, and whether or not he “directed the unilateral disabling or obstacle of operate of Starlink satellite tv for pc communications terminals utilized by the Ukrainian Armed Forces in southern Ukraine in 2022,” or ever had the authority to take action.

Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois wrote a letter Friday to Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin to precise their “severe considerations about whether or not Musk has personally intervened to undermine a key U.S. companion at a essential juncture.”

Their questions comply with the publication of a biography of Elon Musk, who’s CEO of SpaceX and automaker Tesla, and proprietor and chief expertise officer of the social community X, previously generally known as Twitter. Within the guide, creator Walter Isaacson wrote {that a} Ukrainian drone submarine assault on Russian warships was disrupted by a disconnect from Starlink, ordered by Musk.

Excerpts from the guide raised alarm bells in Washington, amongst NATO allies and within the Ukrainian capital. After they have been printed, Musk painted himself as a peacekeeper and wrote on social media that he didn’t disconnect Starlink over Crimea, however fairly denied a request by Ukraine to supply it there. He wrote, “If I had agreed to their request, then SpaceX can be explicitly complicit in a serious act of struggle and battle escalation.” Isaacson has issued a correction to his biography stating that connectivity had already been disabled within the affected space, and that Musk had merely refused a request to show it on.

Musk additionally argued, as he has up to now, that Ukraine ought to strike a “truce” with Russia. Musk’s “peace plan” argument was shouted down by Ukraine officers, politicians and Putin specialists.

On Tuesday, in an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Field,” Isaacson mentioned SpaceX creating a military-grade model of Starlink, which might assist resolve considerations expressed by Musk concerning the satellite tv for pc networks’ use in struggle.

CNBC requested the U.S. Division of Protection a number of questions pertaining to SpaceX, together with whether or not the division can be re-evaluating any of the corporate’s authorities contracts, whether or not Musk’s requires a truce between Ukraine and Russia replicate the U.S. authorities’s place and whether or not Musk’s conduct, together with taking private conferences with Putin up to now, had been consistent with the phrases of contracts awarded to his firm.

A spokesperson for the division, Jeff Jurgensen, instructed CNBC by way of e mail, “The Division does contract with Starlink for satellite tv for pc communication companies in help of our Ukrainian companions,” however declined to supply additional particulars or reply the precise questions posed.

He added that the Division of Protection “continues to work carefully with business trade to make sure we now have the appropriate capabilities the Ukrainians must defend themselves — and extra broadly — the type of communication and space-related capabilities mandatory to perform our personal world missions and help our nationwide protection technique.”

Earlier within the week, Sen. Warren referred to as for a Congressional probe of Musk and SpaceX. “Congress wants to analyze what’s occurred right here, and whether or not we now have satisfactory instruments to ensure international coverage is carried out by the federal government and never by one billionaire,” Warren mentioned Monday, Bloomberg first reported.

SpaceX is presently working to acquire a brand new license from the Federal Aviation Administration and approvals from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to renew check flights for its Starship Tremendous Heavy launch automobile from its Boca Chica, Texas, facility. An earlier check flight this 12 months resulted in an explosion and a mishap investigation overseen and just lately accomplished by the FAA.

The corporate plans to make use of Starship to launch and deploy its subsequent technology Starlink satellites. Musk additionally envisions Starship taking astronauts and provides to the moon, and finally, Mars.

Learn the total letter right here.

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