The world’s richest man, Elon Musk, and the world’s second richest man, Jeff Bezos, have sparked a battle in front of US regulators over their satellite internet projects.
The conflict between the two billionaires began when SpaceX attempted to convince the US Federal Communications Commission to allow it to position Starlink satellites closer to Earth than originally expected. Amazon was one of the companies that had attempted to block the move, citing potential interference with other satellites. In response to Amazon’s objections, SpaceX accused the e-commerce company of making misleading claims, while also taking a stab at its Project Kuiper network, noting that it has yet to move past preliminary stages.
On Tuesday, Musk himself barraged into the conflict, reiterating on Twitter that SpaceX is significantly further along in the race to develop adequate satellite technology. It does not serve the public to hamstring Starlink today for an Amazon satellite system that is at best several years away from operation,” he exclaimed.
As of current, there are approximately 1,000 Starlink satellites in orbit, offering services to a limited number of customers across the US, Canada, and the UK. Starlink’s service is currently only in the beta testing phase, which allows early adopters to opt in via an upfront cost of $499, followed by a $99 monthly fee thereafter. SpaceX has revealed it plans to launch thousands of more satellites in the near future, with the intent of offering “near global coverage.”
In the meantime, Amazon has been working on creating its own system called Project Kuiper, with plans to launch more than 3,000 satellites into low-earth orbit. At the end of 2020, the company reached a critical milestone on its antennas, but has yet to create any satellites.
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