Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk spar over their satellite internet projects

Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk reignite space feud: World’s richest men spar over their satellite internet projects with the SpaceX founder blasting Amazon for ‘hamstringing’ Starlink

  • Bezos and Musk became embroiled in a public spat Tuesday over Musk’s SpaceX Starlink and Bezos’s Project Kuiper being evaluated by federal regulators
  • Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, took aim at Bezos on Twitter accusing his Project Kuiper of trying to ‘hamstring’ his Starlink venture 
  • He also made a dig that Amazon’s project is ‘at best several years away’ from getting off the ground
  • Bezos clapped back via Amazon saying it is actually Musk who is trying to ‘hamstring’ and ‘smother competition in the cradle’ 
  • SpaceX is asking Federal Communications Commission officials to allow it to move some of its Starlink satellites to lower altitudes than originally planned
  • Amazon has pushed back against the request saying it would interfere with other satellites including its own Project Kuiper internet satellites 
  • Both are building internet systems transmitted by satellites in orbit around Earth 
  • There has been no love lost between the two tech titans for more than a decade as they have gone head to head on several projects 
  • This year their playground spat reached their bank balances when Musk briefly overtook Bezos as the richest man in the world – then Bezos reclaimed his crown

The battle between Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk has heated up once again as the tech titans sparred over their rival satellite internet projects when SpaceX accused Amazon of trying to ‘hamstring’ competition. 

The two richest men on the planet became embroiled in a bitter public spat Tuesday over Musk’s SpaceX Starlink and Bezos’s Project Kuiper being evaluated by federal regulators.

Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, took aim at Bezos on Twitter accusing his Project Kuiper of trying to ‘hamstring’ his Starlink venture and also making a dig that Amazon’s project is ‘at best several years away’ from getting off the ground. 

Bezos, who is less vocal on Twitter than his rival, clapped back via Amazon saying it is actually Musk who is trying to ‘hamstring’ and ‘smother competition in the cradle’ and saying his project is creating a ‘dangerous environment for collisions’ in space.

The feud comes as SpaceX is asking Federal Communications Commission officials to allow it to move some of its Starlink satellites to lower altitudes than originally planned.

Amazon has pushed back against the request saying it would interfere with other satellites including its own Project Kuiper internet satellites which it plans to launch into low Earth orbit.     

There has been no love lost between the two tech titans for more than a decade as they have gone head to head on several projects including their missions to send tourists into space.   

Musk has branded Bezos a ‘copycat’ over some of Amazon’s business ventures while Bezos has mocked Musk’s plan to send humans to Mars. 

This year their playground antics reached their bank balances when Musk briefly overtook Bezos as the richest man in the world – before Bezos quickly reclaimed his crown once again. 


The battle between Jeff Bezos (left) and Elon Musk (right) has heated up once again as the tech titans sparred over their rival satellite internet projects when SpaceX accused Amazon of trying to ‘hamstring’ competition before the firm hit back saying Musk’s project is creating a ‘dangerous environment for collisions’ in space

Musk struck the first blow in Tuesday’s spat tweeting: ‘It does not serve the public to hamstring Starlink today for an Amazon satellite system that is at best several years away from operation.’

His tweet came in response to a Twitter thread from CNBC Journalist Michael Sheetz detailing SpaceX’s efforts to win over the regulators. 

Director of Satellite Policy for SpaceX David Goldman had met with FCC officials last week to give a presentation to try to persuade the FCC to allow Starlink to bring its satellites into lower altitudes. 

Sheetz shared some of the slides from the presentation where SpaceX argued that its rival ‘cherry pick[ed] data and ignore[d] the true changes in the modification’ and accused it of ‘misrepresent[ing] the true results’ from the proposed changes. 

‘Amazon argues that SpaceX must allow Amazon to harm SpaceX’s existing operations,’ the slide read. 

Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, took aim at Bezos on Twitter accusing his Project Kuiper of trying to ‘hamstring’ his Starlink venture and also making a dig that Amazon’s project is ‘at best several years away’ from getting off the ground

His tweet came in response to a Twitter thread from CNBC Journalist Michael Sheetz detailing SpaceX’s efforts to win over the regulators

Director of Satellite Policy for SpaceX David Goldman had met with FCC officials last week to give a presentation to try to persuade the FCC to allow Starlink to bring its satellites into lower altitudes. One slide above hits out at Amazon 

Other slides defend SpaceX’s request of the regulators saying the orbit modifications would not cause interference with other satellites

One full slide, titled ‘Amazon’s Attempts to Stifle Competition’, was dedicated to attacking Bezos’s firm for what SpaceX described as a ‘continuous campaign to undermine authorizations from competitors.’ 

SpaceX accused Amazon of being anti-competitive and said the firm ‘lacks standing because its system is not authorized to launch.’  

The company also argued that Amazon had embarked on a ‘path of obstruction’ against SpaceX holding 30 meetings to oppose SpaceX but none to authorize its own system.  

It said the orbit modifications would not cause interference with other satellites. 

Musk doubled down on the attack in his Twitter post fueling Amazon to fire back in a statement. 

Bezos, who is less vocal on Twitter than his rival, clapped back via Amazon saying it is actually Musk who is trying to ‘hamstring’ and ‘smother competition in the cradle’

‘The facts are simple. We designed the Kuiper System to avoid interference with Starlink, and now SpaceX wants to change the design of its system,’ Amazon said. 

‘Those changes not only create a more dangerous environment for collisions in space, but they also increase radio interference for customers

‘Despite what SpaceX posts on Twitter, it is SpaceX’s proposed changes that would hamstring competition among satellite systems. It is clearly in SpaceX’s interest to smother competition in the cradle if they can, but it is certainly not in the public’s interest.’  

 Amazon previously asked FCC officials to limit SpaceX’s satellites to a minimum altitude of 580 kilometers at least until it has evaluated concerns of interference with other satellites.

‘SpaceX has indicated that it is capable of operating its system without exceeding 580 km and has not demonstrated why such a condition should not be effective immediately,’ Amazon corporate counsel Mariah Dodson Shuman wrote in a letter to the FCC in December. 

Pictured 60 Starlink satellites stacked together before deployment on 24 May 2019

Amazon’s Project Kuiper is yet to make or launch any satellites but plans to send 3,236 internet satellites into low Earth orbit to rival Musk’s internet system

Both tech giants are racing to build high-speed internet systems transmitted by satellites in orbit around Earth. 

Starlink is Musk’s plan to build an interconnected internet network with about 12,000 satellites, which will provide high-speed internet all over the planet. 

So far it has sent more than 1,000 satellites into orbit with its public beta program launching in October. 

The program then expanded to the UK and Canada in January while the firm has registered in other countries across the globe. 

On Sunday, the firm launched its Falcon 9 rocket, carrying 143 spacecraft to orbit – the most ever deployed on a single mission – but is now lobbying regulators to move them into lower orbits.  

Amazon’s Project Kuiper is yet to make or launch any satellites but plans to send 3,236 internet satellites into low Earth orbit to rival Musk’s internet system. 

In July the FCC authorized the proposal for Kuiper which will deliver broadband services first in the US and then around the globe.

Amazon said it will cost around $10 billion to build. 

Experts have warned that too much ‘space junk’ around Earth poses a number of dangers including that it could collide with spacecrafts or the International Space Station, disrupt radio frequencies or even blot out the stars. 

Both tech giants are racing to build high-speed internet systems transmitted by satellites in orbit around Earth

Elon Musk vs Jeff Bezos: The battle of the world’s richest men  

For the last 15 years, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have been embroiled in a bitter rivalry over everything from their space ventures to their positions as the richest men on the planet.

Here’s a rundown of their main rivalries.

WEALTH  

Bezos has long claimed the title of the world’s richest man over his biggest rival but that all changed at the start of this year.

In January, Musk inched past Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg – and finally Bezos – to claim the number one spot when Tesla shares rocketed to an all-time high. 

On January 7, his net worth hit $187 billion – $1 billion more than Bezos’s $186 billion. 

But his victory was short-lived after some movement in both Amazon and Tesla shares over the coming days.

Amazon shares then jumped 1 percent on January 13, pushing his net worth to $184.9 billion, just $200 million richer than Musk’s then-net worth of $184.7 billion, according to Forbes. 


Bezos has long claimed the title of the world’s richest man over his biggest rival but that all changed at the start of this year

SPACE TOURISM  

Bezos and Musk are both racing to get their  space tourism projects off the ground.

Bezos was first to make the move into spaceflight when he launched Blue Origin in 2000. Musk then launched Space X in 2002.

The long-running feud between the two men is rumored to have all started with a meeting in 2004 where they met to discuss their rocket plans and instantly rubbed each other up the wrong way.

‘I actually did my best to give good advice, which he largely ignored,’ Musk said of the meeting, according to ‘The Space Barons’ by Christian Davenport.

Tensions escalated in 2013 when SpaceX tried to get exclusive use of a NASA launchpad. 

Bezos tweeted in 2015 that Blue Origin had successfully landed its New Shepard rocket to which Musk replied that his firm had done the same thing three years earlier

When it was Musk’s turn to boast of a successful landing that December, Musk then hit back ‘welcome to the club’

Blue Origin filed a complaint with the government to block the move and to instead make the launchpad available to all companies to use. 

Musk fired back saying it was a ‘phony blocking tactic’ and hit out at the slow pace of Blue Origin’s plans saying ‘we are more likely to discover unicorns dancing in the flame duct’ than to see Bezos’s firm ready to launch a rocket. 

SpaceX was granted the launchpad rights and the next year, Blue Origin filed a patent for drone ships – a critical component for landing rocket boosters. 

SpaceX filed a suit and the patent was tossed.

They have repeatedly exchanged blows on Twitter since then.

Bezos tweeted in 2015 that Blue Origin had successfully landed its New Shepard rocket to which Musk replied that his firm had done the same thing three years earlier.

Bezos was first to make the move into spaceflight when he launched Blue Origin in 2000. Pictured Blue Origin

When it was Musk’s turn to boast of a successful landing that December, Musk then hit back ‘welcome to the club’. 

Last year Musk also suggested Bezos was too old to keep going with Blue Origin.

‘The rate of progress is too slow and the amount of years he has left is not enough, but I’m still glad he’s doing what he’s doing with Blue Origin,’ Musk said. 

Blue Origin has successfully used a single New Shepard Rocket six times but crewed missions for astronauts or tourists have yet to be announced. 

Meanwhile SpaceX has carried out numerous launches carrying NASA equipment to the ISS and partnerships claiming it will send tourists to space in 2021.  

On February 6 2018, SpaceX sent rocket towards the orbit of Mars, 140 million miles away, with Musk’s own red Tesla roadster attached.   

Musk then launched Space X in 2002. A SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in January 

POACHING STAFF  

Musk has repeatedly claimed Blue Origin has tried to steal staff from SpaceX.

‘Blue Origin does these surgical strikes on specialized talent offering like double their salaries,’ Musk said in 2015. 

‘I think it’s unnecessary and a bit rude.’ 

The rivalry heated up in 2019 when Bezos reportedly hired SpaceX’s former vice president of satellites Rajeev Badyal. 

INTERNET SATELLITES  

Musk and Bezos clashed straight away over their internet satellite programs with Musk calling Bezos a ‘copycat’ when it emerged Amazon had plans to launch more than 3,000 internet satellites into space in 2019. 

Musk’s SpaceX had previously announced plans to launch satellites for global broadband the previous year. 

SpaceX has now asked FCC officials to be able to lower its orbit for its satellites. 

Amazon responded asking FCC officials to limit SpaceX’s satellites to a minimum altitude of 580 kilometers at least until it has evaluated concerns of interference with other satellites.

Musk and Bezos clashed straight away over their internet satellite programs with Musk calling Bezos a ‘copycat’ when it emerged Amazon had plans to launch more than 3,000 internet satellites into space in 2019

This week the rivalry heated up when Musk tweeted: ‘It does not serve the public to hamstring Starlink today for an Amazon satellite system that is at best several years away from operation.’ 

Director of Satellite Policy for SpaceX David Goldman had met with FCC officials last week to give a presentation to try to persuade regulators to allow Starlink to bring its satellites into lower altitudes. 

In the presentation SpaceX argued that its rival ‘cherry pick[ed] data and ignore[d] the true changes in the modification’ and accused it of ‘misrepresent[ing] the true results’ from the proposed changes.  

Bezos, who is less vocal on Twitter than his rival, clapped back via Amazon saying it is actually Musk who is trying to ‘hamstring’ and ‘smother competition in the cradle.’ 

SELF-DRIVING CARS 

Musk branded Bezos a ‘copycat’ again in June 2020 when Amazon acquired self-driving-taxi company Zoox, after Musk’s Tesla has worked for years on its self-driving cars. 

AND THE REST… 

Musk is known for his controversial tweets and has been more vocal of his dislike for Bezos than the other way round.  

When Bezos unveiled Blue Origin’s concept for a lunar-landing vehicle called Blue Moon, Musk mocked the name tweeting: ‘Putting the word ‘Blue’ on a ball is questionable branding.’ 

He has also hit out in person. When asked about his rivalry with Bezos in 2016, Musk replied: ‘Jeff who?’

Bezos meanwhile has taken aim at Musk’s lofty plans to send humans to the moon.

‘Go live on the top of Mount Everest for a year first and see if you like it, because it’s a garden paradise compared to Mars,’ Bezos said in 2019.

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