Elon Musk Takes Aim at Jeff Bezos Again As Amazon Complains About Starlink

Elon Musk has added more fuel to the SpaceX vs. Blue Origin fire after posting a dry remark about Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos on Friday morning.

The two companies have stirred up an increasingly fierce rivalry this year with Blue Origin having filed a complaint, and then a lawsuit, against NASA's decision to award SpaceX alone with a moon landing contract.

And on Wednesday this week Amazon—also founded by Bezos—wrote to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging it to dismiss SpaceX's current proposals for its second-generation Starlink satellite communications system, which would comprise 30,000 satellites, on the basis that SpaceX's proposals were at odds with FCC rules.

On Friday, Musk took to Twitter to fire a barbed response to Amazon's letter, stating: "Turns out Besos retired in order to pursue a full-time job filing lawsuits against SpaceX…"

In recent days Musk has also responded with laughing emojis to posts that appeared to be making fun of Blue Origin, including one which jokingly implied Blue Origin had asked to "copy [Musk's] homework" based on the appearance of the company's early Project Jarvis rocket tank prototype.

While Musk's public responses to the ongoing feud have been tongue-in-cheek, Blue Origin's efforts to fight for a spot in the commercial space industry are very real.

In its letter to the FCC on Wednesday, Amazon criticized SpaceX's proposal for its new Starlink satellite communications system because the company put forward two possible configurations.

The letter reads: "The Commission's rules require that SpaceX settle the details of its proposed amendment before filing its application—not after.

"Accordingly, the Commission should enforce its rules, dismiss SpaceX's Amendment, and invite SpaceX to resubmit its amendment after settling on a single configuration for its Gen2 System."

Amazon has a vested interest in satellite communications itself and is planning to launch what it calls "Project Kuiper" which, just like Starlink, is aimed at employing a large constellation of satellites that beam an internet connection to Earth.

But it is Blue Origin's legal action against NASA that has caught public attention and attracted controversy in recent weeks.

The space agency had initially asked SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics to put forward a lunar lander proposal as part of the upcoming Artemis moon landing program, and indicated that up to two contracts would be awarded depending on funds.

NASA eventually decided to award just one contract to SpaceX. Blue Origin contested this in a complaint that was eventually rejected by an independent government agency, which ended up causing a delay to the SpaceX contract.

In August, Blue Origin took its concerns further with legal action, leading NASA to once again pause work with SpaceX while the details of the case are reviewed. The concern is that the legal action will cause delays to the Artemis program.

Blue Origin has also put together infographics showing what the company says is "immense complexity and high risk" associated with SpaceX's Starship lunar lander proposal.

Musk responded to one infographic on August 14 by tweeting: "The sad thing is that even if Santa Claus suddenly made their hardware real for free, the first thing you'd want to do is cancel it."

Musk and Bezos
Elon Musk, left, pictured December 2020 in Berlin, and Jeff Bezos, right, pictured September 2018 in Maryland. The space company founders are engaged in a rivalry. Britta Pedersen / Alex Wong/Pool / Getty