Agile Military Acquisition – 1 week

Many people talk about agile acquisitions of military defense systems, trying to put away bureaucracy that has grown for decades. Elon Musk seems to operate in a different place and think differently.

Consider the chronological script below. In a week, a capability is on line and days later is reprogrammed to handle new enemy threats. This would take years in the normal acquisition process. Musk deserves to be the richest human on the globe. But that will be a small accomplishment compared to figuring out how to pass forward his style and capability to a generation of others. I think his only competitor would have been Steve Jobs, yet Jobs faltered when he invited an outsider to run Apple, and lost traction for years of his creative life, already cut shorter than expected with cancer. Musk’s breadth, versatility, confidence, and determination/grit just stomps down obstacles. I wish I could have learned from Musk back when he was creating the 1995 Zip2 city guides and 1999 web banking (I owned a Palm Pilot back then, able to pay money through the IR port).  Everybody has to start somewhere and learn to be great; I would like to have understood how he started.

Six other co-founders are significantly less known. Elon continued to reach and re-invest his worth.  In 2002, he started a space transport company with about $400M, and as of March 2022, now manages a net worth of about $220 billion.

Actors referenced below:

  • Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO
  • Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX President, provides Starlink satellite internet
  • Mykhailo Fedorov – Ukraine vice-Minister, Minister of digital transformation

Sequence of acquisition events:

1/14 Shotwell – SpaceX applies for Starlink operating permit in Ukraine

2/24 Russia invades Ukraine

2/26 Federov – tweets request for Starlink; interpreted by SpaceX as approval to operate.

2/26 Musk – tweets confirms service turn on in Ukrains; terminals arrive in country.

3/2 Fedorov – “Thank you” SpaceX for satellite internet comms. Now we need generators.

3/3 Musk – Starlink software changes to reduce power consumption; add mobility from 12v car power, phased array.

3/3 Musk – Starlink only working terminal. Use with caution – probability of being a target is high.

3/4 Musk – SpaceX corporate priorities are shifting to cyber defnese and overcomming Starlink jamming in Ukraine.

3/5 Musk – Some terminals are being jammed near conflict areas. Software updated to bypass jamming. Curious to see next attack.

3/5 Musk – Starlink will not block Russian news unless at gun point. Musk describes himself as a free-speech absolutist.

About Brian

Engineer. Aviator. Educator. Scientist.
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