Updated on October 1, 2022
- Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, mocked President Joe Biden on Sunday for failing to praise his aerospace company’s historic all-civilian orbital mission.
- Musk recently stated that he would rather avoid politics. However, Sunday’s remark alluded to a Trump taunt directed at Biden — revealed his annoyance with the White House.
After SpaceX completed a historic private spaceflight on Saturday, CEO Elon Musk took a shot at President Joe Biden, who had yet to congratulate the company or the civilian flight crew on their accomplishments.
Musk was asked by one of his 60 million Twitter followers, “How come the President of the United States has refused to acknowledge the four newest American astronauts who have raised hundreds of millions of dollars for St. Jude?” What is your explanation for this?”
“He’s still sleeping.” Musk responded.
He’s still sleeping
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 19, 2021
As previously reported by CNBC, SpaceX safely re-entered orbit with its Crew Dragon spacecraft yesterday. After three days in space, the capsule returned the four members of the Inspiration4 mission to Earth.
The Inspiration4 mission’s primary objective was to raise $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
By Saturday, it had raised $160.2 million. Musk pledged $50 million personally to celebrate Inspiration4’s splashdown, bringing the campaign’s total raised to $210 million.
A request for comment from the White House and SpaceX was not immediately returned.
NASA’s top officials have expressed their congratulations on Musk and SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission.
SpaceX’s competitors recognized it as well, with accolades shared on social media by Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Blue Origin, and Musk’s peer and rival Jeff Bezos.
Congratulations, #Inspiration4! With today's splashdown, you've helped demonstrate that low-Earth orbit is open for business.
— Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) September 19, 2021
This was SpaceX’s first private spaceflight with an amateur crew. The mission included the first Black woman to fly a spacecraft, the youngest American astronaut to date, and the first person to fly in space with a prosthesis.
While Musk recently stated that he “would prefer to stay out of politics,” his Sunday remark indicated a willingness to poke the Democratic president and repeat a right-wing taunt about Biden.
Throughout his 2020 campaign, former President Donald Trump frequently derisively referred to then-candidate Biden as “Sleepy Joe.”
Recently, Trump sent sarcastic well-wishes to Biden during a June summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He stated at the time in an e-mailed statement, “I wish Biden the best of luck in dealing with President Putin—do not fall asleep during the meeting, and please convey my warmest regards!”
In general, SpaceX has a positive relationship with the federal government.
For example, SpaceX was awarded a $2.89 billion contract by NASA to build the agency’s next crewed lunar lander, defeating Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Leidos subsidiary Dynetics, and SpaceX has already flown ten astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA.
However, the Department of Justice is also investigating SpaceX over allegations that it discriminated against job applicants based on their citizenship status — an investigation that began during the Trump administration.
Musk is also the CEO of Tesla, an electric vehicle manufacturer, and his responsibilities at SpaceX. (Tesla also provides components to SpaceX.)
He recently lamented a Biden administration proposal to provide an additional $4,500 in incentives to buyers of certain new electric light-duty passenger vehicles in that capacity.
One of the proposal’s requirements is that union workers manufacture electric cars in the United States.
While Tesla already has a battery factory in Nevada and a vehicle assembly plant in California, with another under construction outside of Austin, Texas, the company is the only major automaker in the United States whose manufacturing is not unionized.
Musk said of the proposal on Twitter on September 12: “This is written by Ford/UAW lobbyists, as they manufacture their electric vehicle in Mexico.” It’s not clear how this benefits American taxpayers.”
Tesla’s popular Model 3 electric sedan topped Cars.com’s annual American Made Index for 2021, while its crossover Model Y came in third.
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