Musk and Bezos’ billionaire space race switches tracks – as Amazon launches internet


The taxpayer-funded space race between billionaire tech moguls Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos moved into satellite-based internet services today. 

Bezos’ Amazon launched its first test satellites for a proposed internet service Friday, the company’s first steps in its scheme to rival SpaceX´s broadband network, Starlink.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket blasted off with the pair of test satellites, kicking off a program that describes its goals as achieving global internet coverage with an eventual 3,236 satellites around Earth.

Amazon said it plans to begin offering the service by the end of 2024.

Elon Musk´s SpaceX has a huge head start, however, over Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos, who has his own rocket company, Blue Origin.

SpaceX flew its first test Starlink satellites in 2018 and the first operational satellites in 2019. It has since launched more than 5,000 Starlinks from Florida and California, using its own Falcon rockets.

Europe´s Eutelsat OneWeb also is launching internet satellites, with around 600 now in orbit.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifts off carrying Amazon's two prototype relay stations for a space-based internet service it calls Project Kuiper, from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., October 6, 2023

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifts off carrying Amazon’s two prototype relay stations for a space-based internet service it calls Project Kuiper, from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., October 6, 2023

Musk branded the Amazon founder a 'dilettante' when it comes to space exploration

Bezos fired back that Musk’s own staff believed that he ‘rarely knew as much as he claimed'

Musk has branded the Amazon founder a ‘dilettante’ when it comes to space exploration while Bezos fired back that Musk’s own staff believed that he ‘rarely knew as much as he claimed’

The competition between Musk and Bezos has become known as the ‘Billionaire’s Space Race’ — according to Musk biographer Walter Isaacson — because space is a ‘passion’ for both men: two nerds who grew up immersed in science fiction. 

The two billionaires reignited their feud by trading insults in Isaacson’s biography of the SpaceX founder, published last month.

Musk branded the Amazon founder a ‘dilettante’ when it comes to space exploration for not spending enough time on his company, Blue Origin.

But Bezos fired back that Musk’s own staff believed he ‘rarely knew as much as he claimed,’ according to Isaacson’s reporting.

Former employees of Tesla and SpaceX said they thought Musk’s ideas were ‘usually unhelpful or problematic,’ the book claims.

Their space feud is not new: Musk and Bezos have been fighting for control of space tourism and for contracts with NASA for two decades.

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and Amazon's Project Kuiper Protoflight mission sit on the pad at Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41) at NASA's Cape Canaveral

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and Amazon’s Project Kuiper Protoflight mission sit on the pad at Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41) at NASA’s Cape Canaveral 

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin was officially awarded a $3.4 billion contract with NASA earlier this year, putting the billionaire one small step closer to putting a man on the moon. Back in 2021, Musk's SpaceX won $3 billion to help put humans back on the moon for the first time since 1972. Bezos had tried in vain to win that contract - then tried to sue to overturn the decision

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin was officially awarded a $3.4 billion contract with NASA earlier this year, putting the billionaire one small step closer to putting a man on the moon. Back in 2021, Musk’s SpaceX won $3 billion to help put humans back on the moon for the first time since 1972. Bezos had tried in vain to win that contract – then tried to sue to overturn the decision

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin was officially awarded a $3.4 billion contract with NASA last May, putting the billionaire one small step closer to putting a man on the moon. 

Back in 2021, Musk’s SpaceX won $3 billion to help put humans back on the moon for the first time since 1972. Bezos had tried in vain to win that contract — then launched a failed lawsuit to overturn the decision. 

With today’s launch, Amazon had originally agreed to put the two test satellites on the debut launch of ULA’s Vulcan rocket. 

But with the Vulcan grounded by problems until at least the end of this year, Amazon switched to the long-established Atlas V.

When licensing the program, the Federal Communications Commission stipulated that at least half of the planned satellites will be operating by 2026 and all of them by 2029.

Amazon has reserved 77 launches from ULA, Blue Origin and Europe´s Arianespace to get the thousands of proposed satellites up into orbit.



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