Elon Musk has been trying from the very beginning to coordinate between the affairs of his two highly unrelated companies, SpaceX and Tesla. The CEO might have just found a solution to his problems. He now has plans to combine the efforts of both the companies to create new materials that could be used for both electric cars and also be used as a renewable source on Earth, in space as well as in spacecraft and on rockets. Both SpaceX, as well as Tesla, are trying to build a material engineering team to develop new and advanced materials which will be complimentary for both the companies.
The phenomenon started two years ago when in a report it was mentioned that Musk had hired Apple’s alloy expert Charles Kuehmann to head the materials engineering department for both of the companies simultaneously. Kuehmann has a Ph.D. degree in materials science & Engineering which he obtained from the North Western University in 1994. He thereafter founded the company known as Questek after two years with four of his colleagues for computational material design. At QuesTek, he invented various new engineering materials, tools, and processes. He also discovered many new alloys based on a number of different elements. The company was later on acquired by apple where he became the head of the materials engineering department and focused on developing new aluminum alloys for the company.
Kuehmann then made a jump to Tesla and SpaceX in the year of 2015 and had after that built a strong team of material engineers for both the companies. He is not the only one who has held this position. Computational materials scientist Maarten De Jong has also assumed a similar post in both the companies. Tesla is, however, looking to expand its team of new metallurgists as well as materials engineering personnel.
In recent recruitment processes also Tesla and SpaceX are trying to bring about a collaboration scenario, whereby it is mentioned that the candidate would be required to work both for Tesla as well as SpaceX. The officials of Tesla had however declined to comment on this issue when they were reached out for the same. Reports have confirmed that both the companies have set up a database of materials that would be interchangeable between both the companies.
On paper, they are considered as sister concerns but actually, they are very different entities and thus such material team collaboration can lead to significant confusion concerning the development of new alloys and crucial intellectual property.