The fur is flying in the broadband internet satellite race.
It all started when we found out that Amazon was planning its own 3,236-satellite constellation to provide global internet access. The campaign, known as Project Kuiper, is likely to compete with SpaceX’s long-running Starlink project to put thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit and do pretty much the same thing. SpaceX’s operation in Redmond, Wash., was set up in 2015 to lead the Starlink development effort.
The fact that Amazon recruited engineers who worked on Starlink in Redmond but were reportedly thrown off the project last year by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk added insult to injury.
On Tuesday, Musk weighed in on Project Kuiper with a catty remark on Twitter:
.@JeffBezos copy ?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 9, 2019
This isn’t the first Musk vs. Bezos run-in: SpaceX and Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture tussled over a patent for at-sea rocket landings and an opportunity to lease Kennedy Space Center’s historic Launch Complex 39A. (SpaceX won both tussles.)
There was also a dust-up on Twitter over Blue Origin’s landing and reuse of its suborbital New Shepard spaceship in 2015. When SpaceX achieved the same feat with its orbital-class Falcon 9 rocket, Bezos posted a tweet saying, “Welcome to the club.” That sparked a Twitter outcry from Musk and SpaceX’s fans.
Bezos issued no response to this week’s jab from Musk, on Twitter or otherwise, but there was a tweet from OneWeb founder and executive chairman Greg Wyler.
Wyler’s the one who came up with a plan for global internet access via hundreds of satellites in low Earth orbit in 2014, and discussed the idea with Musk before the SpaceX founder made his own announcement in Seattle in early 2015. Now Wyler’s OneWeb is competing with SpaceX as well as Amazon and other would-be broadband satellite operators.
That provides the context for Wyler’s one-word reply to Musk’s catcall:
— Greg Wyler (@greg_wyler) April 10, 2019