Wednesday 05 May 2021
Musk is still ahead of Bezos
Two tech egos want to conquer space
Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos are the brains behind two of the world’s most valuable corporations today. The billionaires and their space companies are fighting hard for a prestigious contract from NASA. It’s also pretty rough at times.
For two huge egos like those of Tesla and PayPal founder Elon Musk and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, even space doesn’t seem big enough. Her space companies SpaceX and Blue Origin are currently fighting over the hugely important order for the new NASA lunar module. But there is more to the dispute. SpaceX scored points in the race for the new lunar module, which will bring US astronauts back to Earth’s satellite from 2024. The space company founded by Musk in 2002 got the NASA contract. But Blue Origin does not want to accept that, as the company founded by Bezos announced last week.
She appealed to the US audit office because of an “incorrect” tender and warned that the US space agency’s decision for SpaceX jeopardized “America’s return to the moon”. Musk responded with a comment below the belt: “Don’t get him up (into orbit),” he scoffed at Blue Origin on online networks. “This is more than a battle in space,” says analyst Daniel Ives of the US investment firm Wedbush Securities, referring to Musk and Bezos, who have both invested large sums of money from their huge private fortunes in their space companies. “This is where a couple of egos come into play.”
In terms of financial resources, 57-year-old Bezos has the lead. According to Forbes, the founder of the shipping empire Amazon is the richest person in the world with a fortune of 202 billion dollars (168 billion euros). The 49-year-old Musk ranks third with $ 173 billion. In the space industry, however, Musk is clearly in the lead. The SpaceX subsidiary Starlink has already launched hundreds of satellites into space in order to secure a share of the global market for Internet connections. The Amazon subsidiary Kuiper has not yet succeeded in this, although Bezos has promised ten billion dollars in support.
SpaceX uses know-how from Microsoft
To make matters worse, SpaceX has also teamed up with Microsoft, Amazon’s largest competitor in the computer cloud market. SpaceX is allowed to use Microsoft’s Azure platform for its satellite-based Internet service, as the two companies announced at the end of last year. Microsoft also plans to work with SpaceX to build satellites for a defense system to detect ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and hypersonic missiles. Bezos accuses SpaceX and Microsoft of a joint campaign against his corporate empire.
This is also responsible for the fact that last year the Pentagon awarded a ten billion dollar contract for its “Jedi” cloud system to Microsoft and not to Amazon. And SpaceX also has its foot in the door with the state. NASA values SpaceX as a reliable cargo supplier for the International Space Station ISS. In the meantime, SpaceX rockets have already brought astronauts to the ISS several times and thus freed NASA from its dependence on Russian Soyuz capsules. Blue Origin, on the other hand, has not made an “important step” in these areas, says space expert Xavier Pasco from the think tank Foundation for Strategic Research.
Bezos thinks Mars colonization is spinning
Musk has big plans in space. In 2016 he announced a manned Mars mission. Bezos has made it clear that he thinks dreams of colonizing the Red Planet are spinning mills. “Who wants to move to Mars?” Asked Bezos in 2019 at a conference. “Do me a favor, go and live on Mount Everest for a year and see if you like that – because this is a paradise garden compared to Mars.”
Whether Mars colonization or not – Bezos is also aware of the business potential of commercial space travel, says Wedbush analyst Ives. After all, there will be billions of dollars to be earned there in the near future. For that, SpaceX and Blue Origin would have to get in position, says Ives. “Bezos and Musk know that the space battle winner will be crowned in the next year or two.”
And Bezos could soon achieve at least one small success: On July 20, Blue Origin wants to bring people into space for the first time – and auction a seat in the astronaut capsule. As of today, bidding can be made online for this, the winner should be determined on June 12, the company announced. “This seat will change the way you see the world,” said a company statement. The roughly ten-minute flight should bring the crew to a height of just over 100 kilometers and then back to Earth. No further details were given.