Two of the richest men in the world are fighting for space domination.
Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and owner of SpaceX, and Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and owner of Blue Origin, are at odds as they compete in the “Billionaire Space Race.”
Bezos started his company Blue Origin in 2000, and Musk started SpaceX in 2002. Even though there is tension between the two founders, both companies share the goal of making space travel accessible to all.
Bezos and Musk’s rivalry dates back 15 years. In 2004, they went to dinner together to discuss their space travel plans, which ended badly.
“I actually did my best to give good advice, which he largely ignored,” Musk said after the meeting, according to Business Insider.
Over the years, the two continued to undermine one another’s space ambitions. For example, SpaceX desired to use a NASA launchpad in 2013, but Blue Origin asked the government to deny SpaceX access to the pad. However, SpaceX won in the end.
Moreover, Bezos and Musk even started competing on Twitter.
On Nov. 24, 2015, Blue Origin (Bezos) successfully launched the New Shepard space vehicle, which reached an altitude of 329,839 feet.
“The rarest of beasts—a used rocket. Controlled landing not easy, but done right, can look easy,” Bezos tweeted in response to the launch of the New Shepard.
Musk responded to Bezos’ tweet saying, “Not quite ‘rarest.’ SpaceX Grasshopper rocket did 6 suborbital flights 3 years ago and is still around.”
Bezos and Musk continue to go back and forth.
“Musk wants to colonize Mars, but Bezos has ridiculed him for it. Bezos wants Amazon to launch internet-beaming satellites into space, which caused Musk to call him a ‘copycat,’” The Guardian stated.
Furthermore, on May 1, 2020, NASA gave Blue Origin (Bezos) and SpaceX (Musk) 10 months to formulate designs for a lunar lander that would effectively land humans on the moon. In April 2021, NASA granted SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to create lunar landers. Consequently, Bezos backfired by submitting a lawsuit against NASA.
On Nov. 4, 2021, Bezos lost the lawsuit and SpaceX received the grant from NASA. Bezos is not letting NASA stop him by continuing to be innovative in this never-ending space contest.
Although both SpaceX and Blue Origin are successful, Musk seems to be in the lead for the space race.
According to CNN, “[Space X] has built rockets capable of shuttling satellites and other cargo into Earth’s orbit, a trip that requires speeds topping 17,000 miles per hour, and built a 1,500-piece constellation of internet-beaming satellites; it’s figured out how to land and reuse much of its hardware after flight; and it’s won massive NASA and US military contracts.”
However, Bezos is making impressive feats as well. On July 20, 2021, Bezos made space travel history.
“For 10 minutes and 10 seconds on Tuesday, Jeff Bezos wasn’t the richest man on Earth. [SpaceX’s] first crewed New Shepard rocket blasted off from the Texas desert for the brief flight, also carrying his brother and the oldest and youngest people to ever have flown in space,” according to Michael Sheetz from NBC.
The capsule reached 107 kilometers, which went past the edge of space, and returned safely back to Earth. Blue Origin’s accomplishments show the future of private space flight.
Despite their achievements, all the lawsuits, undermining and insults question the integrity of Bezos and Musk’s intentions. Fears persist that these billionaires’ egos control their ability to successfully make the right decisions.
Rather than spending their time arguing, Bezos and Musk should spend their valuable time and money helping others. Two men worth billions of dollars should focus their efforts on solving world hunger, diminishing climate change or decreasing poverty instead of tripping over their egos fighting for space.
Although the possibility traveling to space in the future is intriguing and exciting, the men behind it all should not focus on proving their superiority. Billionaires’ feuds do not lead to solutions—only conflict. Bezos and Musk need to learn how to collaborate to discover new possibilities that will make the maximum positive impact.