Elon Musk has blasted Jeff Bezos over the Amazon founder suing NASA, saying you ‘cannot sue your way to the Moon, no matter how good your lawyers are’.
It was in reference to Bezos’ space firm, Blue Origin, taking NASA to court over its decision to only award SpaceX the contract to build a lunar lander.
This is the latest in an ongoing spat between two of the world’s richest men, who are battling it out for supremacy in the growing commercial space sector.
Musk has made it clear he isn’t happy Bezos keeps taking legal action to stop SpaceX projects, and made the latest comments during the 2021 Code Conference, in Beverly Hills, California.
It comes shortly after Musk tweeted the suggestion Bezos ‘retired in order to pursue a full-time job filing lawsuits against SpaceX’ last month.
A spokesperson for Amazon said the comments were hypocritical, adding that ‘It is difficult to reconcile their own historical record with their recent position on others filing similar actions,’ suggesting SpaceX have a history of suing the government.
Elon Musk (left) blasted Jeff Bezos (right), over the Amazon founder suing NASA, saying you ‘cannot sue your way to the Moon, no matter how good your lawyers are’
NASA has chosen Elon Musk’s SpaceX to build the spacecraft that will take the first woman and next man to the moon. SpaceX’s HLS Starship will include the company’s tested Raptor engines, along with pulling inspiration from the Falcon and Dragon vehicles’ designs
SPACEX’S STARSHIP TO GO TO THE MOON IN 2024
SpaceX’s HLS Starship will include the company’s tested Raptor engines, along with pulling inspiration from the Falcon and Dragon vehicles’ designs.
It will feature a spacious cabin and two airlocks for astronaut moonwalks.
Work started on designing the lunar vehicle in May 2020 and work will now begin to fully build it thanks to a NASA $2.89 billion contract.
The initial contact covers an uncrewed demonstration mission, and a crewed lunar landing in 2024.
It is also planned future lunar landings will be made using Starship HLS.
It is equipped with a complement of thrusters used on the final descent and takeoff from the surface of the moon.
The final design will have a 100 day loiter capability in lunar orbit allowing for more trips to the lunar surface.
It also is designed to carry extra propellant to allow for an emergency ascent from the moon.
- Length: 50 m (164 ft 1 in)
- Width: 9 m (29 ft 6 in)
- Payload: 100–200 t (220,000–440,000 lb)
- Status: In development
- First launch: Uncrewed 2023
- Applications: Reusable lunar lander
SpaceX, owned and founded by Elon Musk, won a lucrative contract to develop a version of its Starship spaceship to take astronauts to the lunar surface in 2024.
Blue Origin was one of three hopefuls for the contract, with SpaceX and Dynetics.
The Bezos-owned firm had hoped NASA would pay for two alternative landers, as had happened in the past – but funding cuts led to the agency picking just the SpaceX lander.
After NASA announced it would go with SpaceX alone, Blue Origin filed a 50-page protest to the Government Accountability Office.
This appeal accused NASA of ‘moving the goalposts at the last minute,’ but was denied by officials, leading to Blue Origin suing the space agency.
Blue Origin also published a series of negative infographics, calling the SpaceX lunar lander project an ‘immensely complex and high risk’ approach for sending the first woman and next man to the moon in 2024.
Musk didn’t just lash out at Bezos during the interview with journalist Kara Swisher at the 2021 Code Conference on Tuesday, he did have some positive feedback.
When he was asked about the suborbital flights recently run by Bezos and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, he praised the pair for investing in space.
He said he ‘thought it was cool that they’re spending money on the advancement of space,’ but pointed out suborbital was a step in the direction of orbit.
His orbital remark may also have been in reference to the fact his firm sent the first fully civilian crew on a three day trip in orbit around the Earth – higher than the ISS.
Blue Origin, like Virgin Galactic, has so far only achieved suborbital flight, sending passengers to the ‘edge of space’ at about 50 to 60 miles up.
In contrast, the Inspiration4 crew, travelling in a modified SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, were in orbit around the planet 364 miles above the surface.
An appeal that accused NASA of ‘moving the goalposts at the last minute,’ was denied by officials, prompting Musk to say: ‘If lobbying and lawyers could get u to orbit, Bezos would be on Pluto [right now]’
There is no love-loss between Bezos and Musk, with Musk regularly accusing Bezos of turning to lobbying and legal action to get his own way.
It isn’t just with Blue Origin though, as Bezos’ Amazon also filed a protest with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over SpaceX Starlink satellites.
Amazon wants to operate thousands of satellites in the same space as Starlink, about 270 miles above the Earth and launched a scathing filing with the FCC amid an ongoing rivalry over satellite launches and space operations.
In August Musk tweeted the suggestion Bezos ‘retired in order to pursue a full-time job filing lawsuits against SpaceX.’ The law suit against NASA is one of the things that could lead to a delay in the Artemis lunar landing mission, the other is the spacesuits (pictured) which are apparently unlikely to be ready by 2024
SPACEX INSPIRATION4: CIVILIAN MISSION TO ORBIT THE EARTH
Dubbed Inspiration4, the mission was designed to raise awareness and support for the St Jude’s pediatric cancer centre in the US.
Although this is not the first time civilians have travelled to space, it is the first mission crewed solely by civilians, with no astronaut on board.
The four-person team, under the command of Isaacman, launched on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on September 16, 2021.
They travelled in a customised SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule with a dome to allow all occupants to view the Earth.
It orbited the Earth for three days, travelling at 17,000 miles per hour and venturing further from the Earth than the International Space Station.
It was funded by 38-year-old billionaire Jared Isaacman, who also donated money to St Jude’s.
The rest of the $200 million fundraising came from donations, media deals and $50m from SpaceX founder Elon Musk.
The crew included:
- Jared Isaacman
- Sian Proctor
- Hayley Arceneaux
- Christopher Sembroski
The actual cost of the flight, which included extensive training and a customised spaceship, hasn’t been revealed but is thought to be over $100 million.
Amazon accused Musk of ignoring a variety of government-imposed rules, including several Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements.
‘Whether it is launching satellites with unlicensed antennas, launching rockets without approval, building an unapproved launch tower, or re-opening a factory in violation of a shelter-in-place order, the conduct of SpaceX and other Musk-led companies makes their view plain,’ the filing read.
It added: ‘Rules are for other people, and those who insist upon or even simply request compliance are deserving of derision and ad hominem attacks.
‘If the FCC regulated hypocrisy, SpaceX would be keeping the commission very busy.’
Amazon’s Project Kuiper, a planned $10 billion network of over 3,000 satellites that will provide high-speed internet from space, faces stiff competition from SpaceX’s Starlink network – a broadband internet system already in its beta form.
Last week, SpaceX accused Amazon in its own filing with the FCC of seeking to delay SpaceX’s plan, saying it was ‘only the latest in its continuing efforts to slow down competition.’
‘While SpaceX has proceeded to deploy more than 1,700 satellites, Amazon has yet to even attempt to address the radio frequency interference and orbital debris issues that must be resolved before Amazon can deploy its constellation,’ SpaceX said.
The aerospace company suggested that ‘as (Amazon) falls behind competitors … it is more than willing to use regulatory and legal processes to create obstacles designed to delay those competitors from leaving Amazon even further behind.’
Meanwhile, Amazon’s filing said ‘SpaceX has just one name for any private company that dares point out its flouting of laws and regulations: anti-competitive.’
The real spat is between Blue Origin, NASA and SpaceX, and started in April 2020 when NASA announced it would award three initial research contracts to Blue Origin, Dynetics and SpaceX to develop a lander system.
Blue Origin received $579 million, Dynetics $253 million and SpaceX $135 million as part of that initial research contract with the hope of winning the final deal.
‘The crew of Inspiration4 had an incredible first day in space,’ they wrote. They travelled to space on a SpaceX rocket and journeyed around the Earth in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule
BLUE ORIGIN’S NEW GLENN VS SPACEX’S STARSHIP
Blue Origin and SpaceX are set to compete for heavy lift launches with the New Glenn and Starship rockets.
- Manufacturer: Blue Origin
- Height: 98 m (322 ft)
- Diameter: 7 m (23 ft)
- Stages: 2
- Payload to LEO: 45,000 kg
- Manufacturer: SpaceX
- Height: 120 m (390 ft)
- Diameter: 9 m (30 ft)
- Stages: 2
- Payload to LEO : 100-150 t
On April 16, 2021, NASA announced SpaceX was going to be the only company to construct a lunar lander, and being awarded less than either of the other two firms.
SpaceX received a $2.9 billion contract to develop the lander that will go to the lunar surface, possibly as soon as 2024.
In July, just before Bezos went to the edge of space on the Blue Origin New Shepard rocket, he published an open letter to NASA calling for competition to be restored to the Artemis mission.
He offered to cover billions of dollars of costs involved in developing the lander, saying he was fortunate to be in a position to do so.
This prompted Musk to tweet: ‘Just want to say thanks to those in government who fight hard for the right thing to happen, despite extreme pressure to do otherwise. Therin lies the core goodness of the American state.’
The Artemis mission, which is set for 2024, will see four astronauts board the Orion spacecraft that will be rocketed off to space by NASA’s powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket – due to make its debut launch early next year.
Once in orbit, two crew members will transfer to the SpaceX human landing system (HLS), an adapted version of the Starship spacecraft, and head to the surface.
After a week exploring the lunar surface, they will board the SpaceX lander for their short trip back to orbit where they will dock with the Orion and their colleagues that remained on board, before heading back to Earth.
Blue Origin was one of three hopefuls for the contract, with SpaceX and Dynetics, and hoped NASA would pay two firms to develop alternative landers, as had happened in the past – but funded cuts led to the agency picking one project. Bezos travelled to space in July in the New Shepherd rocket (pictured)
Eventually, possibly by 2028, both the Starship lander and Orion will dock with the Lunar Gateway space station due to be built in orbit around the moon.
In July, billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos flew into space on spacecraft that their companies built, gathering worldwide attention in their short trips.
Both bank on space tourism business from their fellow space fans with big wallets, with tickets expected to cost up to $350,000 for the 10 minute joyride.
Billionaire Jared Isaacman led SpaceX’s first all-private orbital mission that splashed down after three days in circling the Earth.
His flight was on a Dragon capsule and SpaceX rocket built by space-obsessed billionaire, Elon Musk – who has a ticket with Virgin Galactic and hopes to one day ‘die on Mars’.
Unlike the other two missions, Isaacman’s ride raised more than $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital including $100 million from Isaacman and $50 million from Musk.
THE BILLIONAIRE SPACE RACE: HOW BRANSON, MUSK AND BEZOS ARE VYING FOR GALACTIC SUPREMACY
Jeff Bezos in front of Blue Origin’s space capsule
Dubbed the ‘NewSpace’ set, Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk all say they were inspired by the first moon landing in 1969, when the US beat the Soviet Union in the space race, and there is no doubt how much it would mean to each of them to win the ‘new space race’.
Amazon founder Bezos had looked set to be the first of the three to fly to space, having announced plans to launch aboard his space company Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft on July 20, but Branson beat him to the punch.
The British billionaire became Virgin Galactic Astronaut 001 when he made it to space on a suborbital flight nine days before Bezos – on July 11 in a test flight.
Bezos travelled to space on July 20 with his younger brother Mark, Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old physics student whose dad purchased his ticket, and pioneering female astronaut Wally Funk, 82.
Although SpaceX and Tesla founder Musk has said he wants to go into space, and even ‘die on Mars’, he has not said when he might blast into orbit – but has purchased a ticket with Virgin Galactic for a suborbital flight.
SpaceX became the first of the ‘space tourism’ operators to send a fully civilian crew into orbit, with the Inspiration4 mission funded by billionaire Jared Isaacman.
His flight was on a Dragon capsule and SpaceX rocket built by space-obsessed billionaire, Elon Musk and took off for the three day orbital trip on September 16 – going higher than the International Space Station.
SpaceX appears to be leading the way in the broader billionaire space race with numerous launches carrying NASA equipment to the ISS and partnerships to send tourists to space by 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.
Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule
SpaceX has also taken two groups of astronauts to the |International Space Station, with crew from NASA, ESA and JAXA, the Japanese space agency.
SpaceX has been sending batches of 60 satellites into space to help form its Starlink network, which is already in beta and providing fast internet to rural areas.
Branson and Virgin Galactic are taking a different approach to conquering space. It has repeatedly, and successfully, conducted test flights of the Virgin Galactic’s Unity space plane.
The first took place in December 2018 and the latest on May 22, with the flight accelerating to more than 2,000 miles per hour (Mach 2.7).
More than 600 affluent customers to date, including celebrities Brad Pitt and Katy Perry, have reserved a $250,000 (£200,000) seat on one of Virgin’s space trips. The final tickets are expected to cost $350,000.
Branson has previously said he expects Elon Musk to win the race to Mars with his private rocket firm SpaceX.
Richard Branson with the Virgin Galactic craft
SpaceShipTwo can carry six passengers and two pilots. Each passenger gets the same seating position with two large windows – one to the side and one overhead.
The space ship is 60ft long with a 90inch diameter cabin allowing maximum room for the astronauts to float in zero gravity.
It climbs to 50,000ft before the rocket engine ignites. SpaceShipTwo separates from its carrier craft, White Knight II, once it has passed the 50-mile mark.
Passengers become ‘astronauts’ when they reach the Karman line, the boundary of Earth’s atmosphere.
The spaceship will then make a suborbital journey with approximately six minutes of weightlessness, with the entire flight lasting approximately 1.5 hours.
Bezos revealed in April 2017 that he finances Blue Origin with around $1 billion (£720 million) of Amazon stock each year.
The system consists of a pressurised crew capsule atop a reusable ‘New Shepard’ booster rocket.
At its peak, the capsule reached 65 miles (104 kilometres), just above the official threshold for space and landed vertically seven minutes after liftoff.
Blue Origin are working on New Glenn, the next generation heavy lift rocket, that will compete with the SpaceX Falcon 9.