By Amira Shehata
Saturday, October 7, 2023 at 10:00 p.m
The space race between billionaire tech giants Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos has shifted to satellite Internet services, as Bezos’ company Amazon launched the first test satellites for Internet service, the first steps in a plan to compete with SpaceX’s broadband network. Called “Starlink”.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifted off with a pair of test satellites, launching a program detailing its targets. Achieving global internet coverage Amazon plans to launch the service by the end of 2024, with 3,236 satellites eventually orbiting the Earth.
However, Elon Musk’s SpaceX has a head start over Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos, who also owns his own rocket company, Blue Origin.
SpaceX launched its first experimental Starlink satellites in 2018 and its first operational satellites in 2019, and has launched more than 5,000 Starlinks from Florida and California using its Falcon rockets.
The rivalry between Musk and Bezos is known as the “billionaire space race” because, according to Musk biographer Walter Isaacson, space is a “passion” for both.
The two billionaires exchanged insults and reignited their feud in a biography of SpaceX founder Isaacson that was released last month.
The Amazon founder has described Musk as an “amateur” when it comes to space exploration because he doesn’t spend enough time at his company, Blue Origin.
But Bezos responded that, according to Isaacson’s report, Musk’s staff believed he “hardly knew as much as he claimed.”
Former Tesla and SpaceX employees said they believed Musk’s ideas were often unhelpful or problematic, as the book claims.
Their space dispute is nothing new: Musk and Bezos have been fighting for two decades over control of space tourism and contracts with NASA.
Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin officially won a $3.4 billion contract with NASA last May.
Also, in 2021, Musk’s company, SpaceX, won $3 billion to help return humans to the moon for the first time since 1972, and Bezos tried in vain to win the deal, then launched an unsuccessful lawsuit to overturn the decision.
Amazon has currently booked 77 launches from Europe’s ULA, Blue Origin and Arianespace, sending thousands of proposed satellites into orbit.