The rivalry in space between two giants of thought – Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Tesla CEO Elon Musk – is flaring up more and more. For the public, it takes place in the form of a continuous duel of tweets, and behind the scenes – in the struggle for lucrative NASA contracts. Bezos plans to step down as head of Amazon this year to focus fully on the development of his space brainchild, Blue Origin. Musk, a real “man-orchestra”, also seems to be paying more and more attention not to electric cars, but to the spaceships of his company SpaceX.
This competition in space between the richest people in the world did not begin today. Blue Origin was founded in 2000 and SpaceX in 2002. But since then, Musk has accomplished much more than Bezos. In 2012, his private company became the first to send a cargo ship to the International Space Station (ISS). In 2020, SpaceX sent humans to the ISS for the first time.
Bezos had a lot of failures. His development went at the speed of a turtle. Blue Origin conducted 15 launches of its New Shepard spacecraft, named after American astronaut Alan Shepard, the first in the United States to fly suborbital, but they were unable to reach low Earth orbit. Even the Washington Post, which the Amazon founder acquired in 2013, admits that Bezos is losing the race to Musk.
Probably for this reason, the main contracts go to Musk. Last year, the Pentagon, which ditched Russian technology, agreed to pay SpaceX hundreds of millions of dollars to use its spacecraft. Musk won an even bigger victory this year when NASA gave him a $ 2.9 billion contract to build a spacecraft to send astronauts to the moon. Let me remind you that the Americans were the first to visit the moon, it happened back in 1972. Since then, there have been no attempts to repeat the feat, but now, if everything goes smoothly, American astronauts should land on the moon in 2024.
But Bezos also wanted to be the first on this space travel. He was extremely angry that the contract went to his main competitor, Musk. The offense was also related to the fact that at the first stage of consideration of the application, NASA was ready to do his best, especially considering that Blue Origin acted in conjunction with two other companies – the influential Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grunman and Draper. But as a result, the contract was given to Musk.
Despite the great setback, the “Amazonian” is not ready to give up and turned to Congress for help. They supported him there. Democratic Senator Maria Kentwell, chairman of the Committee on Trade, Science and Transport, believes NASA should now award a new $ 10 billion contract to be split between Bezos and Musk.
The latter immediately burst into an angry tirade on Twitter. “Jeff Bezos, insisting on a new contract, only slows down the operation of landing people on the moon and gives the leadership in space to China.”
“Lie, lie, lie!” – answered him to this Bezos. “In fact, Elon Musk is simply afraid of competition.”
Bezos has lost the battle so far, but not the war, American experts say, the titanic battle between them will continue for many years. In the foreseeable future, in addition to exploration of the moon, both companies want to launch satellites that provide cheap broadband internet around the world. They also began to compete in space tourism.
The first private person to go into space was on April 28, 2001, American businessman Dennis Tito, the Russian Soyuz-TM 32 spacecraft with him on board launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome. Tito paid $ 20 million for space travel. Now up to 2.4 million people can become potential participants in space projects. Note that they will not be sent to the ISS, they will be in suborbital orbit, with an altitude of 80 to 100 kilometers from the Earth.
The competitors of Musk and Bezos in this segment will be the founder of Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson. It has yet to launch a single human into space, but it has sold 600 tickets, with prices ranging from $ 200 to $ 250.
But a couple of the most ambitious figures have even more impressive plans. Bezos was once inspired by the ideas of Gerald O, Neil to create space platforms, which will be transferred to billions of Earth’s inhabitants when resources run out. Musk is overwhelmed by the desire to colonize Mars. In an interview with the Xprize Foundation, he said that there are already thousands of those wishing to fly to Mars, but warned them that the venture would not be easy. “A glorious journey and an amazing experience awaits them,” he said. – Yes, you can die. It will be inconvenient, and the food will probably not be very good, and so on. But if you are attracted by a difficult and dangerous, but glorious adventure, then Mars is the most suitable place for it. “
The plans of Musk and Bezos may seem utopian to some. But these are not HG Wells fantasies. With such incredible ambitions and such money, one can seriously think about a platform for landing people on the moon and about expeditions to the “red planet” – Mars – both have proved that they will sweep away any obstacles on the way to achieving their goals.