month, I wrote a column highlighting how Elon Musk’s lack of
transparency with issues surrounding Tesla and SpaceX would likely lead
to more fatalities and security concerns in the years to come.
the time, front and center in the news was Elon Musk’s short-circuiting
of a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation into a
fatality-causing Tesla Model X crash, as well as the ostensible
three-year cover-up of the reasons for a massive SpaceX explosion. As
any regulatory policy analyst will tell you, there are always reasons
for fearing sunlight, and they are generally never good ones.
the breaking news of the day from this week has shown, the case of Elon
Musk is of no exception.
from last night indicate that on Tuesday night, two teenagers were
killed in Fort Lauderdale due to their Tesla Model S bursting into
flames. This incident marks the third Tesla fatality in months.
NTSB is again investigating the situation. This time, it would be best
for Elon Musk to cooperate with their wishes, refraining from hanging
the phone up on them or posting non-NTSB vetted crash information on his
website. The billionaire can continue posting information that leads
readers to think the fault lies with the drivers, not Tesla itself, but
with each passing incident, his story will have fewer and fewer
believers. There seem to be clear quality control issues on the
corporate side. The sooner Musk allows regulators to do their job
uninterrupted, the sooner these fatalities will likely come to an end.
ostensible consequences that come with Musk self-investigating his
problems on the Tesla side are bad enough, but things do not get any
better when analyzing the recent news surrounding SpaceX’s possible
Musk’s internal review found a supplier-provided strut, not personal
imprecision, was to blame for one of his many rocket explosions, a NASA
report that came out three years later contradicts Musk’s reasoning. It
seems to blame SpaceX for using a lower-grade part without adequate
screening and testing.
worse, a Washington Post report from this week demonstrates how Congress
and NASA safety advisers fear that a tragedy of equal or worse magnitude
will occur with astronauts on board – a milestone that SpaceX still
plans on achieving by the end of the year.
has been adamant about getting more propellant for its buck by shrinking
the fuel in cold temperatures so more can be loaded in tanks, but
according to experts, the company may do so at the expense of human
lives. For Musk’s plan to work, SpaceX will need to load the propellant
just before launch time while astronauts are on board – a huge problem
when considering the reasonable possibility of it sparking and
exploding. As a result, A NASA advisory group cautioned that Musk’s
“load-and-go” strategy is “contrary to booster safety criteria that has
been in place for over 50 years.” Another expert stated that NASA “never
could get comfortable with the safety risks” because “when you’re
loading densified propellants, it is not an inherently stable
situation.” Yet Musk is still carrying on as if nothing happened, just
as he is with Tesla despite the egregious concerns that come with it.
Just how different would the unsettling events in Musk’s orbit be if the
NTSB and NASA managed to conduct investigations promptly and without
political pressure? We may never know, but the state of play would
almost certainly be better than it currently is.
each passing week, more and more lives continue to become jeopardized by
Musk’s companies. Policymakers and auditors must begin addressing the
problems at hand with a greater sense of urgency before yet another
tragedy occurs. What’s done is done, but that does not mean these
problems cannot be rectified now before the start of darker, gloomier
chapters. The American people deserve better.