The space race is back on. Except this time, it's the United States versus the United States and the profit motive is helping drive the competition.
Amazon's satellite subsidiary Kuiper Systems took a swipe at rival SpaceX in a regulatory filing with US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this week.
"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: rules are for other people, and those who insist upon or even simply request compliance are deserving of derision and ad hominem attacks,” Kuiper said in a regulatory filing, pointing out the propensity for Musk-led companies to play by their own rules.
“…and other Musk-led companies makes their view plain: rules are for other people, and those who insist upon or even simply request compliance are deserving of derision and ad hominem attacks.” 2/2— Christian Davenport (@wapodavenport) September 8, 2021
Musk and Bezos have been locked in competition since they were both vying for the same $2.9 billion lunar lander contract from NASA. The contract eventually went to Musk's SpaceX, who then poached members of Blue Origin to work on its team.
Blue Origin, saw "at least" 17 of its top staffers defect from the company, we wrote last month. One employee, a lead engineer, left to take a job at SpaceX, according to reporting by Insider. Another employee wound up at Firefly Aerospace.
CNBC then followed up, noting that "many other engineers and key leaders" also left Blue Origin and that some of them were part of the team that tried to land the lunar contract. Blue Origin had appealed not getting the contract back in April, but the appeal was rejected by the Government Accountability Office in July.
The "friendly competition" between Bezos and Musk looks to be accelerating on other fronts, too. We noted just days ago that Bezos has been an investor in Altos Labs, described as "a Silicon Valley startup working on technology to rejuvenate cells and potentially prolong life."
The project could be seen as competition to Musk's Neuralink. It plans on implementing reprogramming technology, used to turn adult, specialized cells into stem cells, to treat vision loss, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries and other age-related bodily degeneration.
After the news broke, Musk couldn't help but take a parting jab at Bezos:
And if it doesn’t work, he’s gonna sue death!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 7, 2021