It appears the long-running feud between Elon Musk and fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos has surpassed the lower Earth orbit and gone extra-terrestrial. After Bezos's Blue Origin challenged a NASA contract to Musk's SpaceX for developing a lander to take astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972, Musk called out Bezos on social media. But now, he is taking a more frontal route, bluntly telling the Amazon founder to devote more time to reach the orbit than filing lawsuits. “You cannot sue your way to the Moon,” Musk said during an interview recently.
Their rivalry spans more than just the coveted NASA contract. Blue Origin has also protested SpaceX's Starlink project with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
During the interview at the Code conference in Los Angeles, journalist Kara Swisher asked him how he felt about Bezos suing SpaceX over the NASA contract. Musk said, “I think he should put more of his energy into getting to orbit than lawsuits. You cannot sue your way to the Moon. No matter how good your lawyers are.”
“So why isn't Bezos doing that”, Swisher asked. To which, Musk said he doesn't know.
In April, the American space agency decided to award the contract to build the lunar lander – dubbed the Human Landing System (HLS) – to a single entity, instead of choosing two companies. In this case, it was SpaceX. Blue Origin objected to the decision but it failed. The company then sued NASA, alleging that the agency unjustly granted the contract to Musk-owned SpaceX.
Amazon then turned the heat on the Starlink project, following which Musk tweeted in late August, “Turns out Bezos retired in order to pursue a full-time job filing lawsuits against SpaceX.”
During the interview, Swisher asked Musk whether he had talked to Bezos about the lawsuits. He said cryptically, “Not verbally, just... subtweets.”
He was also asked about the tourism element in space exploration that only billionaires could afford. Musk defended the space companies, who are charging a hefty fee for a seat on their spacecraft, saying when cellphones were invented some people paid for these expensive gadgets initially and that's why they are inexpensive now and everybody can afford them. Asked whether we should thank billionaires for going to space, Musk said, “It doesn't have to be on top of your Thank You-list. I am saying that when there is new technology it is necessarily expensive.”
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