Armenian email campaign asks SpaceX not to aid Turkish regime with satellite launch – ProWellTech
SpaceX Staff and members of the media were inundated this morning with emails apparently from worried Armenians around the world, asking the company to cancel a launch contract with the Turkish government. The concerns are valid and the mass email method surprisingly effective.
In the e-mail form, received by ProWellTech staff hundreds of times in duplicate and with minor variations, the senders explain that they represent or are in solidarity with Armenians around the world, an ethnic and national group that has suffered under authoritarian rule and the regional influence of Turkey President, Tayyip Erdogan.
SpaceX is expected to launch Turkey’s Turksat-5A satellite in the next month or two, an Airbus-built geostationary communications satellite that will serve a large area of Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The deal has been pending for a long time, and SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk even traveled to Turkey to meet Erdogan on the satellite in 2017.
Getting into the complexity of the long-running conflict in which Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and neighboring countries and powers have been involved is beyond the scope of this article, but it is certainly not controversial to say that there have been serious human rights violations under Erdogan’s regime. and other. The word “genocide” is used frequently.
As the email request points out, many countries and governments have decided to condemn Turkey’s behavior and some companies have stopped doing business with the government. Will SpaceX join them?
At this stage – a month before launch, when the payload is likely already blocked – it seems unlikely that SpaceX will return the millions of dollars that Turkey has no doubt already paid, to appear more ethical by deplatforming, so to speak, the government there.
But the campaign raises a legitimate question that is increasingly addressed by new technology-focused companies that grow to encompass a global community that is diverse and, at times, difficult to navigate. Where do companies like SpaceX – or Apple, or Google, or Facebook, or Airbus for that matter – draw the line? Should SpaceX be selfless and mercenary, simply providing services to anyone who pays? Or are there governments or people whose money won’t take?
SpaceX hasn’t had to walk too narrow a path on that front so far; the launch industry is heavily leaning towards military and government contracts, so the deal has already been made with that particular devil. But as he becomes more established and can be a bit more demanding with his customers, he might consider acting as a gatekeeper in the industry where he was a gatecrasher 10 years ago.
As for the email campaign, ProWellTech staff were surprised at its effectiveness in evading Google’s spam filters. I contacted Artsakh Strong, listed in the email as the campaign author, for more information and to be removed from future emails (which I was).
Strong said the emails were sent from individuals, not from a central location, which despite their duplicate content could explain the fact that they managed to reach our inboxes. “These are people coming together to make their unified voice heard,” he wrote. “We are not affiliated with any group but our message is shared by every American Armenian. I apologize for the inconvenience of deleting too many emails, but our employees are being murdered on a daily basis and we need to draw attention to our cause. “
He suggested that as an American company, SpaceX should embody the country’s (supposed) values and refuse to do business with regimes like Erdogan’s. Additionally, he noted that SpaceX receives a large amount of funding and business from the US government, which amounts to a second-hand blessing of its deals as being of public interest.
“There are calls for sanctions on Turkey by the United States and other NATO countries,” he wrote. “SpaceX is strongly urged to take all of these factors into consideration and decide for itself whether or not it wants to continue helping Turkey in the face of such overwhelming and clear evidence of criminal actions. At the very least, Elon Musk and SpaceX can halt the launch to see what these investigations lead to. While this may be a loss of profit for SpaceX, it would be a huge leap for world progress. “
Strong raises legitimate points that many companies providing services internationally face or have their intentions inferred from their actions. This cannot be the first, nor will it be the last, that SpaceX or any other next-generation space company will have to make a difficult choice. At the very least they could explain why they choose as they do.