Is Elon Musk helping Pentagon build a ‘flying metal’ suit just like Iron Man?
Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, met with U.S. Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter on Wednesday, as the Pentagon looks to raise its technology game.
According to a Defense Department spokesman, the focus of the closed-door get together was Carter’s attempt to “build bridges” in technology and learn more about the world of “innovation,” even though Musk is also looking to win more government business for SpaceX, which launches satellites into orbit.
After their meeting neither Carter nor Musk spoke to reporters, but Defense Department spokesman Peter Cook said Monday that Carter “has been reaching out to a number of members of the technology community to get their ideas, their feedback, find out what’s going on in the world of innovation. To make sure that … the Department of Defense remains on the cutting edge, but beyond that I know he’s just looking forward to having a conversation on innovation.”
However, on Thursday, Musk tweeted the reason for his visit had to do with “something about a flying metal suit…” He made a reference to the Marvel Comics’ Iron Man character. He is thought to have partly inspired that character in the 2008 “Iron Man” film.
Something about a flying metal suit…https://t.co/6Z1D9iZ1fV
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 9, 2016
While it is no secret that SpaceX, along with its space exploration endeavours, has been actively competing for military contracts but certain lines of ethics have to remain uncrossed. When asked if Musk’s role as a defense contractor would complicate the meeting with Carter, Cook said: “The secretary knows very well the rules and regulations required, and how to keep those issues separate and apart and transparent.”
Carter has been no stranger to the high-rises and startups of Silicon Valley. He has focused intensely on promoting links between the Department and technology companies from the private sector, making a number of trips to Silicon Valley and establishing the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUX) in Silicon Valley and Boston.
Speaking in San Francisco in March, Carter said DIUX centers would allow the Pentagon “to better tap into the region’s innovation ecosystem and build relationships with local companies.”
He said one of his goals as secretary “has been to build and in some cases to rebuild the bridges between the Pentagon and America’s wonderfully innovative and strong technology community.”
However, given SpaceX’s current goals and how well they fit into the program, it is unclear whether or not Musk was actually meeting with Carter as part of the DIUX initiative.