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Elon Musk Escalates Feud With Amazon Over Satellite Internet Projects

By Eric Volkman - Updated Jan 26, 2021 at 6:20PM

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The Tesla co-founder feels that Jeff Bezos' company is trying to put up a roadblock to his efforts in space.

Might there be room for only one powerful tech entrepreneur in space?

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and the outspoken CEO of Tesla (TSLA 1.66%), and Jeff Bezos of Amazon (AMZN -0.03%) are each developing a network of satellite internet-service providers.

Musk seems to believe that Bezos and Amazon are actively working to sabotage SpaceX's effort, called Starlink. He wrote in a tweet response to a CNBC reporter Tuesday, "It does not serve the public to hamstring Starlink today for an Amazon satellite system that is at best several years away from operation."

The Earth and the sun, as seen from space.

Image source: Getty Images.

SpaceX had asked the Federal Communications Commission to allow it to shift Starlink satellites to lower altitudes, arguing that this will reduce latency and widen the scope for space debris to de-orbit into our atmosphere. But the lower altitudes are close to where Amazon's Kuiper satellites would operate, and that company is among the parties formally objecting to SpaceX's request.

In response to Musk, an unidentified Amazon spokesperson said in a statement to CNBC: "The facts are simple. We designed the Kuiper System to avoid interference with Starlink, and now SpaceX wants to change the design of its system."

"Those changes not only create a more dangerous environment for collisions in space, but they also increase radio interference for customers," the spokesperson added.

Of the two projects, Starlink has the head start. It has over 1,000 satellites in orbit, providing service under a pilot program priced at $99 per month, in addition to a $499 up-front fee for the kit containing the necessary hardware for service. Ultimately, Starlink aims to have around 12,000 satellites in orbit.

Amazon's project is yet to launch. Kuiper's goal is to put 3,236 satellites in orbit for its service.

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