WASHINGTON — Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, will visit the Pentagon on Wednesday for a private meeting with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, in a continuation of Carter's outreach to the California-based tech community.

The visit will focus on "innovation," Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook told reporters Monday. Pushed for more details on Musk's visit, Cook said Carter wants to "hear directly" from Musk as part of his goal of bringing new ideas into the Pentagon.

"Obviously, Elon Musk is one of the most innovative minds in this country," Cook said. "The secretary, as you know, has been reaching out to a number of members of the technology community to get their ideas, their feedback, find out what's going on in the world of innovation, so — to make sure that the United States — the Department of Defense remains on the cutting edge, but beyond that I know he's just looking forward to having a conversation on innovation."

It's unclear if Musk is visiting in some capacity as part of Carter's new Defense Innovation Advisory Board, launched in March under the guidance of Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt.

Musk has become a noted figure around the DC area since his SpaceX firm began fighting for the right to launch military assets into space. After a long slog, SpaceX was certified for military space launch last year.

The timing of Musk's visit is also notable, as the Senate this week debates its version of the National Defense Authorization Act. A major question there is how the Senate will handle an Air Force request to procure more RD-180 engines, a Russian-produced element to the Atlas V launch vehicle — key to the United Launch Alliance, a competitor with SpaceX.

Email: amehta@defensenews.com

Twitter: @AaronMehta

Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.

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