There are so many technology arenas that Elon Musk plays a major role in that mashup potentials are everywhere, especially in pop culture. Space Force, a new Netflix original comedy series poking fun at the United States’ newest military branch, is one of the latest places where the innovative CEO can find his companies being referenced. Surprisingly, it’s not a direct SpaceX plug, but rather the payload the rocket launch provider put into orbit during one of its most famous missions to date: Elon Musk’s personal Tesla Roadster.
In Episode 2 of Space Force, titled “Save Epsilon 6,” a Russian adversary damaged the department’s recently launched satellite. While looking for nearby orbital objects that could provide assistance, “a Tesla” is mentioned along with a subsequent graphic displaying an animated cutout of the original Roadster’s shape. Sadly, Starman didn’t make the silhouette. Also of note was the inaccuracy of the Roadster’s position. According to WhereIsRoaster.com, the electric vehicle is currently some 113 million miles from Earth in orbit around the Sun.
Curiously, and flirting with gossip, another nearby satellite in the image is named “X-12” which, as close followers of Elon Musk would know, is similar to his newborn son’s name, X Æ A-12 (changed to X Æ A-Xii for legal reasons it seems). Admittedly, this reference would be a bit of a stretch, even if it were on purpose. However, being that A-12 was the designation of the SR-71 super spy plane’s predecessor (and the baby’s namesake according to momma Grimes) and NASA’s secret shuttle’s designation is X37, the writers’ naming may not have been so random and semi-coincidental after all. (It probably was.)
Musk’s inspiration also seems to have made its way into Episode 3 of Space Force, titled “Mark and Mallory Go to Washington,” wherein the two main characters are called to testify for a congressional committee. During a series of questions regarding the department’s budget request, one member inspires a Musk-like response from General Naird (played by Steve Carrell):
“General Naird, your entire attitude seems to be, “Give us money, and don’t look while we militarize space… Your scientist is nodding,” the member challenges.
“It is a condition…drinking bird syndrome,” Naird first replies, then pauses before making his actual response. “Look, space is hard.”
“Space is hard?” the member retorts. “If you haven’t settled on a motto yet, may I suggest that become the new Space Force motto?”
Quite honestly, it’s not a bad suggestion given the number of times the phrase is uttered by those in the industry. The commander of the real US Space Force has actually repeated this same sentiment on a few occasions, once in reference to an Iranian boast about its satellite imaging capabilities that were later revealed to be a tumbling webcam.
@US_SpaceCom continues to track 2 objects @PeteAFB’s @18SPCS associated w/#space launch from Iran, characterizing NOUR 01(#SATCAT 45529) as 3U Cubesat. Iran states it has imaging capabilities—actually, it’s a tumbling webcam in space; unlikely providing intel. #spaceishard
— Gen. Jay Raymond (@SpaceForceCSO) April 25, 2020
Speaking of the existing Space Force, which Musk has expressed his approval of as a precursor to a Star Trek-style Starfleet, its plans look to be moving along well. Since its establishment on December 20, 2019, with the signing of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, the Force has put together its headquarters and begun recruiting from current US Air Force personnel and US Air Force Academy graduates. During May, some 8,000 airmen volunteered to switch their service, and 86 graduates from this year’s Academy class were commissioned into the new branch.
The Space Force has also formalized its customer-provider relationship with SpaceX during the recent GPS III (Vehicle 3) satellite launch aboard a Falcon 9, representing the branch’s third launch mission overall since its establishment. Now that the Air Force Space Command has been redesignated as the US Space Force, the service’s relationship with SpaceX will continue on as launch support with the 45th Space Wing in Florida. The Wing’s first support mission under the Space Force designation was also a SpaceX launch, specifically with a payload of Starlink satellites.
With Space Force already having so many ties to Musk and company, it wouldn’t be surprising to see many more SpaceX-linked references in Season 2 of Netflix’s show.