The current situation between Tesla owner Elon Musk and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is quite strenuous because the former feels the latter’s company is trying to create a roadblock in his current plan. Both of them are currently involved in developing networks to provide satellite internet. Elon Musk believes Jeff Bezos’ Amazon might try to sabotage and harm his efforts in this regard: that is, SpaceX’s efforts on Starlink. Recently he took to Twitter and expressed his displeasure, writing that Amazon won’t serve the public by crippling Starlink today for a satellite system that is years behind from operation.
The aim of both Starlink, which is currently operating on a beta-trial basis, and Amazon’s yet-to-be-launched Project Kuiper constellation is to serve the public with broadband internet access globally. The other aims include military communication and cloud computing.
More than 1,000 satellites in low Earth orbit under Starlink can shoot up to 11000 or more in the coming years. Meanwhile, FCC gave Amazon the nod to put 3,236 satellites in a different set of orbits, and at least half of them will be launched by 2026.
Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos’ Feud
The main issue is the potential interference between fleets of satellites, which involves Starlink and Kuiper’s constellations planned by OneWeb, Telesat, and other operators. Last year, when Amazon got FCC’s approval, they were warned to avoid undue interference with other satellites; therefore, the situation got complex.
SpaceX then demanded a nod from FCC for change in orbits for future Starlink satellites a few months back: keeping in mind, improving service, and safe deorbiting of satellites. They wanted to put its first-generation satellites in orbits ranging from 540 to 570 kilometers (336 to 354 miles), rather than the initially approved range of 1,100 to 1,325 kilometers (684 to 823 miles). But on the grounds of that affecting the others’ satellites, the demands of SpaceX received a counter case from Amazon, who objected to the former requests and the other ventures. Hence this proposal has been the ground of most arguments.
According to the latest reports by CNBC, SpaceX director of satellite policy, David Goldman called out the “misleading claims of interference” made by opponents.
It’s unknown about the verdict as of now, but two weeks before, SpaceX received approval from FCC about putting ten satellites in 560-kilometer-high polar orbits with its latest launch, overlooking the argument of interference. However, the commission might postpone their decision.
According to the telecommunication industry consultant Tim Farrar, who is doubtful about the business model of Starlink, the verdict depends on whether the orbital change is major or minor in SpaceX’s license, as decided by FCC.
Till now, Musk always had the upper hand in various issues with Bezos, but according to Jim Cashel, who is the author of a book on the global broadband market titled “The Great Connecting,” the current satellite war is much more than two billionaires fighting.