Elon Musk intensified the feud over lawsuits and rocket sizes with space rival Jeff Bezos this week, kicking off the latest round in the billionaire battle over humanity’s return to the moon.
The SpaceX founder, who in April won a contract from Nasa to build the next-generation spacecraft to take astronauts to the moon’s surface for the first time since 1972, took a jab at Bezos for suing the US government when his company lost out on the deal.
“You cannot sue your way to the Moon, no matter how good your lawyers are,” Musk said during an interview with the journalist Kara Swisher at the Code conference.
Bezos’ Blue Origin sued Nasa in August after the agency handed a $2.9bn moon lander contract to Musk’s SpaceX. Amazon, founded by Bezos, filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FEC) that same month urging the regulator to dismiss SpaceX’s proposed plans to expand its constellation of satellites in its satellite broadband internet venture.
Amazon is working on its own satellite internet called Project Kuiper.
Musk said at Code he had “not verbally” spoken to Bezos about the legal battles, but had sent “subtweets, if you will”.
Amazon said on Wednesday SpaceX had its own long history of suing the US government, releasing a 13-page long list of lawsuits, government petitions, and other legal action SpaceX has filed over the years to the Verge .
“It is difficult to reconcile their own historical record with their recent position on others filing similar actions,” Amazon said in a statement to CNBC.
The lawsuits in the document shared with the Verge include 39 actions that date as far back as 2004, just as Musk’s startup was still taking off.
Musk responded shortly after on twitter, and wrote: “SpaceX has sued to be *allowed* to compete, BO is suing to stop competition.”
The billionaire race to space took another surreal turn at the conference in LA, when Musk joked the Amazon founder’s rocket shape “could be a different shape”.
“Could you explain from a technological point of view why it’s that shape?” Swisher pressed Musk during the live interview.
“If you are only doing suborbital, then your rocket can be shorter, yes,” he said.
Musk later said he would be sending Bezos a giant statue of the number 2 along with a silver medal, to mark the fact he had surpassed him as world’s richest person, worth $200.7bn.
The decision on the lunar lander lawsuit by Bezos’ Blue Origin is expected early November. Nasa has halted work with SpaceX until then.