Elon Musk’s shot at Amazon flares monthslong fight over billionaires’ orbital real estate

The satellite feud between Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Amazon spilled out into the open on social media this week, after brewing for months in meetings with regulators. It’s only the latest spat in a new race among billionaires for a slice of a $1 trillion telecommunications market.

Elon Musk wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera

© Photos by Britta Pedersen-Pool, Elif Ozturk / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Musk and Bezos, the two richest people in the world, are racing to build vast networks of satellites in low-Earth orbit capable of bringing high-speed broadband internet to rural parts of the world that have little or no access to the internet. SpaceX has 955 satellites in orbit for its Starlink network and plans to launch thousands more, while Amazon’s Kuiper System is in earlier stages of development without any satellites in orbit — yet.


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The quarrel centers on a filing from last summer, when SpaceX asked Federal Communications Commission officials for approval to change some Starlink satellites to altitudes between 540 and 570 km — close to Amazon’s proposed constellation, which will orbit Earth around a 590 km altitude. SpaceX says the tweak would make it easier to de-orbit old satellites without causing spectrum

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