Elon Musk Robber Baron?

With his company SpaceX, Elon Musk is setting himself up to conquer the space transportation market. Sure, he talks about colonizing Mars but his bread and butter is getting stuff up to space cheaper than the other guys.

If history is any guide then Musk, like the robber barons a century and a half before him, will soon be expanding beyond the transportation business. When the railroads opened up the North American West, they got into tourism and hotels, communications (telegraph lines along their rights of way) and natural resource extraction (timber) among other businesses.

SpaceX has already structured a strategic relationship with Bigleow Aerospace, a provider of space habitats for tourism and industry. SpaceX is also building satellites so it can provide internet services from space – watch out Comcast and Time Warner. Cell/sat phone services will probably be next.

Natural resource extraction is the outlier. The hard part is getting resources into space, not back from there. There are not a lot of resources in space to extract either.

All there is in space is a lot of radiation. Solar radiation. The kind of radiation you can generate electricity from. And beam it down to earth. If only there were a company  that was in the electricity business that SpaceX could team up with. A company that had power storage capability and that already had its tentacles into the power consumption of hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.

Oh wait. There is such a company. And Musk already owns it. Solar City. How convenient. If I were Consolidated Edison or any other utility I would be playing very close attention.