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Elon Musk: NASA Can Share SpaceX's IP With Literally Anybody, 'No Charge'

Illustration for article titled Elon Musk: NASA Can Share SpaceXs IP With Literally Anybody, No Charge
Photo: AP

During an event with NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine on Thursday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk publicly stated that the agency can share SpaceX’s intellectual property with whomever it wants—not that NASA seems especially eager to.

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Bridenstine and Musk met at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, in an effort to ease growing tension between the aerospace company and the federal agency. The strain was made public two weeks ago when Bridenstine posted a statement on Twitter prior to Musk’s recent update on his Starship spacecraft. The administrator suggested Musk should prioritize its NASA contract to send astronauts to the International Space Station on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon.

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Musk responded to the tweet during a CNN interview, saying “Did he say commercial crew or SLS?” jokingly referencing NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, the development of which has been delayed for years.

Bridenstine responded to the quip during an interview with the Atlantic. “Well, I don’t think that’s helpful,” Bridenstine said. “SLS, that’s a whole different mission. SLS is going to the moon. So I don’t know why you would compare the two.”

Standing together on Thursday for an update on their joint commercial crew program, Musk and Bridenstine seemed interested in deescalating the row, exchanging compliments and emphasizing their shared goal.

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Perhaps as an olive branch or as a way to show that he’s the good guy, Musk reminded Bridenstine that NASA can share SpaceX’s IP with anyone.

As Tech Crunch points out, Musk brought the matter up twice. “I’ve been very very clear with Jim that any SpaceX data should not be considered proprietary,” Musk said during a Q and A. “It can be used by any of our competitors... No charge.”

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Musk reiterated the point later: “I want to be clear: NASA can share all of our IP with anyone that NASA wants.”

Bridenstine responded by thanking Musk, but clarifying that there are reasons that NASA has to be cautious about who it shares information with. “There is IP that it is in the interest of the nation that we cannot be sharing with people, or with countries that would not have our interest at heart,” Bridenstine said, according to TechCrunch.

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While Musk seems to be presenting himself as a visionary who wants his innovations to proliferate so humans can explore the universe, NASA had to remind him that the government is more concerned with others on Earth who want to use that technology for goals that conflict with American interests.

Former senior reporter at Gizmodo

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DISCUSSION

I think Musk cares not about SpaceX IP simply because the techniques to use it will always be secondary to the goal of making it off-world. Because SpaceX IP will get Musk claim on Mars and its resources and Musk knows that nobody in the private launch field wants to use public IP they can’t “own” themselves. 70% of the earth’s surface is covered in water. Mars is about 36% of the size of Earth with maybe 3%-6% covered by dry ice and a bit of brackish ice. The rest is accessible land. More importantly, Mars’ gravitiational density is not strong enough to pull anything other than transuranics down to its core. Meaning that while Iron is the heaviest material on the surface of the earth that wasn’t brought there by asteroids after the crust solidified - Mars gravity will allow formation-era platinum to remain in the crust... and gold, and lead, and silver. Meaning that the person that can lay claim to mars will be laying claim to a world roughly equal to the land-surface area of the Earth. With higher level of raw resources and precious metals in its upper crust that have never been tapped in an environment where there is likely nothing alive to be affected by mining. Mars, as a resource planet, would be worth more than the GDP of the largest five economies on the earth. Combined.

Why should Musk piddle about SpaceX IP? The royalties would be nothing compared to what he could harvest in a year on Mars with a few thousand people digging tunnels.   Remember, Starship can lift 150t from mars’ surface with enough fuel left over to land safely on earth fully laden.   If 125 tons of that is platinum... *shrug*