The Billionaires Are Fighting Over Space Stuff Again

The Billionaires Are Fighting Over Space Stuff Again
Image: Getty

If you thought the billionaire space race was over the second Sir Richard Branson beat Jeff Bezos to the edge of the Earth, think again because SpaceX and Amazon are butting heads over satellites now.

In a lengthy letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) yesterday, SpaceX claimed that Amazon is deliberately trying to delay proposals for Starlink internet services because Amazon’s own version, Kuiper Systems, can’t compete yet.

“This letter is in response to the latest familiar tactics by Kuiper Systems LLC (‘Amazon’)
to delay a competitor, this time by claiming that Space Exploration Holdings, LLC (‘SpaceX’) provided the Commission too much information about its next-generation constellation,” SpaceX director of satellite policy David Goldman said in the letter.

“Amazon’s recent missive is unfortunately only the latest in its continuing efforts to slow down competition, while neglecting to resolve the Commission’s concerns about Amazon’s own nongeostationary orbit (‘NGSO’) satellite system. The Commission should see through these efforts and quickly put SpaceX’s application out for public comment where any issues can be fully vetted.”

The letter comes a week after Amazon urged the FCC to reject SpaceX’s Starlink proposal by claiming it violated the rules by offering two different satellite internet configurations.

“The Commission should dismiss the amendment proposed by SpaceX under section 25.112 of the Commission’s rules,” Amazon said in its own protest letter to the FCC last week.

“The SpaceX Amendment proposes two different configurations for the nearly 30,000 satellites of its Gen2 System, each of which arranges these satellites along very different orbital parameters. SpaceX’s novel approach of applying for two mutually exclusive configurations is at odds with both the Commission’s rules and public policy and we urge the Commission to dismiss this amendment. The Commission’s rules require that SpaceX settle the details of its proposed amendment before filing its application — not after.”

Following the filing of the complaint, Musk took to Twitter to claim that “Bezos retired in order to pursue a full-time job filing lawsuits against SpaceX.” However, it’s worth noting that the complaint isn’t technically a lawsuit.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX wants to launch an additional 30,000 satellites into orbit (on top of the 1,740 it already has up there right now), but not if Amazon can help it.

For those keeping score, Amazon’s satellite-internet subsidiary Project Kuiper is yet to launch a single satellite.

Space is really just a billionaire’s playground and we’re just coming along for the ride.