Carter, Musk to discuss innovation in upcoming meeting

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WASHINGTON – Ash Carter, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, and Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and chief executive, will discuss innovation June 8 in a private meeting, the Pentagon’s top spokesman said.

“Elon Musk is one of the most innovative minds in this country and the secretary, as you know, 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,” Peter Cook, the Pentagon’s press secretary said during a June 6 briefing. “The secretary’s had a number of meetings with business leaders and innovation leaders in particular out in Silicon Valley, other parts of the country, and I think that’s his goal here: to hear directly from Elon Musk on some of these issues.”

The meeting is private, which means an agenda or discussion items are generally not released. More details were not immediately available.

Musk has had a somewhat strained relationship with the Defense Department in recent years. He believed the Air Force moved too slowly in 2014 in certifying SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket to launch national security satellites. SpaceX sued the Air Force that year over its $11 billion block buy contract with United Launch Alliance, arguing that the Defense Department should have put some of those launches up for competition.

But since then Air Force and SpaceX officials have talked repeatedly about their close working relationship and earlier this year the Hawthorne, California-based rocketmaker won the Air Force’s first competitive launch contract in more than a decade, an $82.7 million deal to launch the second GPS-3 contract in 2018.

Carter has made reaching out to Silicon Valley one of the cornerstones of his tenure this year. During a March trip to California’s high-tech hub, Carter gave some of his most extensive comments to date on space and said one of his core jobs was to “rebuild bridges” between the Pentagon and the tech community.