Why Elon Musk & Jeff Bezos Clashing?

Who are Elon Musk & Jeff Bezos?

Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, two billionaires with deep pockets thriving businesses and sky-high ambitions, Bezos is king of E-Commerce while Musk – a titan of technology. The pair has crossed paths more times than I’m sure they would like igniting a few laced with jet fuel that really started to heat up. Despite Bezos and Musk rising up through two completely different industries, their interest eventually clash triggering what we like to consider the new era space race. You see Jeff Bezos is CEO and founder of Blue origin, an innovative aerospace manufacturer that’s striving to make space exploration cheaper on the other hand Elon Musk is CEO and founder of SpaceX, an innovative aerospace manufacturer that’s also striving to make space exploration cheaper.

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon ,Image Credit : Wikipedia


I’m sure you can see why this is causing some friction but it hasn’t always been Musk in red corner Bezos in the blue, in fact they even shared dinner together in 2004 to discuss about their pioneering space endeavors. When both aerospace companies were in their infancy the pair didn’t have all that much to measure up against. Bezos started Blue origin in 2000 and Musk got SpaceX off ground in 2002, however it wasn’t until many years later either would actually launch something resembling a rocket while both companies threw some weight around in the same industry for over a decade. The clash only started to gain some real momentum in 2013 when NASA decided to launch site complex 39A. The 39A pad served as the starting point for countless space missions spanning as far back as the 1960s including infamous Apollo 11 in 1969. 

Why they are clashing?

After NASA retired its shuttle fleet in 2011 they decided it was time to hand the facilities management over to a private company saving taxpayers around $100000 a month upkeep costs alone, so when tried and tested launch facility came up for grabs in 2013 complete with NASA built infrastructure both men obviously wanted to take the advantage of opportunity. Musk proposed using the facility to launch SpaceX Falcon - 9 rockets and eventually the Falcon heavy rocket that was still yet to be built. SpaceX was already launching the Falcon – 9 from a nearby pad for satellite missions and taxing cargo to the international space station. The proposal also hinted at future launches carrying NASA astronaut to the station as well. While Musk intended to use the launch site mostly for SpaceX endeavors, Bezos and Blue Origin took different approach. Blue Origin proposed managing 39A as a multiuser facility saying that they would offer pad to other rocket companies to use while they work towards making use of it at a later date. Essentially Bezos wanted to rent to rent and Musk was all ready to go tilting the scales in his favor, feeling a little behind Musk really squeezed Bezos his inner lemon so in a bitter response he partnered up with the united launch alliance to file a formal protest with the government to void Musk’s application. They pleaded that Musk’s plan to use the launch site exclusively for SpaceX were unfair after all sharing is caring. Musk dubbed it a load of Bezos and a phony blocking stating that SpaceX was open to sharing the site with NASA and other private companies if necessary. After a few back and forth NASA eventually moved forward into negotiations, finalizing a deal with Musk coming into 2014 leaving Bezos out of the picture entirely. So it was one to nil in Musk’s favor but this was beginning and less than a year later the two were firing shots once again. 

Site-39A : Image Credit Pixabay

Bezos had previously filed patents for technology to build reusable rockets that land on a sea going platform, the kind that can take off and land multiple times in its usable life, a key component for making space travel more comfortable. Despite SpaceX being the industry leader and already testing a number of small takeoff and landing rockets if or when they succeeded in making one operational they would be forced to pay Bezos and Blue Origin settlement litigation or licensing fees. Musk being a big player didn’t fancy the idea of shelling out cash to his competitor so disputed the patent profusely stating that the idea of launching a rocket and landing it vertically is old one. Musk even mustered up some old sci-fi footage that showed space rockets landing on boats  explaining that the Blue Origin patents were a demonstration of old ideas and repeated technologies. Musk continued to fight his corner and on September 1st, 2015, he reigned victorious when all 15 points of Bezos’s patents were finally cancelled. 

Feud In Public

Up until this point the feud between Musk and Bezos was mostly private but by the end of 2015 things started to go to public back and forth twitter public. On November the 23rd, 2015, Blue Origin successfully launched and landed its new shaped rocket marking them the first company to successfully fly a sub-orbital booster to space and return it safely back to earth for landing. Bezos made his way to twitter and said the rarest of beasts, a used rocket controlled landing not easy but done right can look easy alongside a short video clip. Musk responded with a tweet of congratulations but he couldn’t just leave it at that he went on to say that it’s important to clear up the differences between space and orbit explaining that it takes speed of mach 3 to get space which is what Blue origin achieved and mach 30 to get orbit which is what Musk said he was on track to achieve. He also stated that rocketing up a payload and bringing the booster back for landing is going to take 100 times more energy, in short Musk was telling Bezos good job buddy but your little Blue Origin is not even in the same league as my SpaceX, just a month later Musk did exactly what he said he would by sending a payload into space and returning the booster safely back for landing. The friction between the two increased and the frequency of public bickering continued. A few years later and the beef is still in full swing at a private lecture in New York. Bezos threw a steaming a hot bowl of criticism at Musk’s goal to colonize Mars. He said “My friends who want to move to Mars I say do me a favor, go live on the top of Mount Everest for a year and see if you like it because it’s garden paradise compared to mars”.  He also went to say that we i.e. Musk should focus on going to the moon as launching from moon is the quickest way to get red planet skipping out the moon is seductive but wrong rather convenient comments seeing as blue origin also revealed their first lunar lander named the Blue Moon the same year, to poke back a little fun Musk tweeted a picture of Bezos blue moon editing the name to read blue balls later saying that putting the word blue on anything massive and bold shaped is a terrible branding choice. A cheap laugh but a good dig all the same another round of tweets occurred just a month prior to blue balls event after Bezos tweeted about Amazon plan to launch more than 3000 satellites to provide un-served and underserved communities. Musk announced basically the same thing with starlink back in 2018 so saw it fit to publicly call Bezos a copycat using emojis of course. The Bezos and Musk Saga continue well in 2020 and are showing zero sign of slowing down. Elon Musk tweeted on June 4, 2020 that it’s time to break Amazon and the monopolies are wrong tagging Bezos who is currently the richest man in the world. Musk’s tweet was in response to a writer who said that his book Unreported Truths About COVID-19 and the Lockdown was being removed from Amazon for violating unspecified guidelines. After Musk spoke out to his 30 million followers an Amazon spokeswoman stated the book was removed in error and was subsequently put back on the Amazon store. Bezos had no comment on the matter. Despite not getting any replies from Amazon founder Musk redeployed the pussycat for a second swipe just a couple of weeks later. The tweet came after Amazon acquired Zoox – a self driving car startup for a little over $1.2 billion in June of 2020. Musk and his team tirelessly developing a autonomous driving systems for year cementing themselves as the industry leaders sure they have few competitors but they are way out in front of pack for the time being. Zoox is already viewed as a progressive up and coming company in field of autonomous cars, the huge influx in capital that Amazon will surely pump into the venture could mean a new ping on Tesla’s radar so a copycat tweet was the obvious go-to this time. 

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Clash will continue

The Bezos and Musk feud has spanned over decades sometimes serious sometimes harmless, however things are inevitably going to start escalating. Both men are incredibly powerful and they certainly have the capital to back it up. Now the pair shares not only the space exploration sector but also the internet and self driving car sector. They could start clashing heads ever more frequently believe or not this is potentially great news for all of us and not just on entertainment front competition of this caliber means progress and urgency. With Bezos pushing Musk and Musk pushing Bezos these new emerging technologies will likely get to us sooner. Let’s hope one doesn’t bankrupt the other in the process.

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