NASA astronauts Doug Hurley (left) and Bob Behnken stand in front of the Tesla Model X that will carry them to the launchpad for the SpaceX Demo-2 launch.
Tesla said on Thursday that it temporarily assigned 20 of its employees to SpaceX, another Elon Musk-led venture, to work on unspecified technical projects.
The disclosure, part of a regulatory filing to announce the date and agenda of Tesla’s shareholders meeting in July, landed just ahead of SpaceX’s planned second attempt to launch two NASA astronauts into orbit from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Demo-2 mission, which is the first spaceflight of NASA astronauts from U.S. soil in nine years and the first crewed flight for SpaceX, was pushed to the weekend after bad weather on Wednesday, the day of its originally scheduled launch.
Veteran NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will ride to the launchpad this weekend (as they did on Wednesday) in a Tesla Model X, an electric SUV with distinct falcon wing doors.
Musk is CEO of Tesla, and the founder, CEO and Chief Technology Officer of SpaceX, but the companies are incorporated as independent entities. Tesla provided scant detail about what the 20 employees will be doing at SpaceX or for how long, saying only that it was a related party transaction and that “SpaceX will pay Tesla an estimated $0.1 million.”
Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, participates in a press conference at the Kennedy Space Center on May 27, 2020 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were scheduled to be the first people since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011 to be launched into space from the United States, but the launch was postponed due to bad weather.
Saul Martinez | Getty Images
While Tesla’s headquarters is in Palo Alto, California, and SpaceX is in Hawthorne, California, there’s plenty of cross-pollination between the two. They share four board members, including Musk and his brother, Kimbal Musk. The other two are Antonio Gracias, who has said he will remain a Tesla director for the next year but doesn’t plan to stand for re-election in 2021, and venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson, who is leaving the Tesla board but staying on at SpaceX.
SpaceX also shares some full-time employees with Tesla, including an executive assistant in the CEO’s office and a vice president of materials engineering at both companies, according to their profiles on LinkedIn.
The deal to send SpaceX some staffers was the latest addition to disclosures about how the companies work together and pay each other. In April, Tesla revealed that it’s been selling car components to SpaceX and using a Tesla machining facility to make a tool for the aerospace venture.
At the upcoming annual shareholders’ meeting, the filing said, investors will be asked to vote on seven different proposals, including whether the company should start spending on traditional advertising, if it should be more transparent about “human rights and labor rights risks” and the impact of mandatory arbitration on its employees.
Tesla and SpaceX representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.