Tesla CEO Elon Musk – who heads a private space exploration venture known as SpaceX – took to Twitter this week to call Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos a copycat, after Bezos announced plans to launch a new satellite-based broadband service.
Geekwire first reported last week that Bezos wants to launch more than 3,200 satellites into space in order to provide high-speed internet service to underserved communities. Known as Project Kuiper, the initiative was revealed through a set of federal filings.
Amazon eventually hopes to bring service to tens of millions of people.
More than one year ago, Musk's SpaceX launched its first two test satellites into orbit for its Starlink constellation, which he said will provide global broadband to “serve [the] least served.”
Starlink’s plans involve nearly 12,000 satellites.
CNBC reported earlier this week that Bezos hired SpaceX’s former vice president of satellites, who had led the Starlink project.
While Amazon will be responsible for the satellite effort, Bezos also owns a rocket company called Blue Origin, which aims to explore the solar system and eventually establish human colonies in space.
Musk has fired back at Bezos regarding his rocket venture before. When Bezos bragged about Blue Origin’s successful rocket launch in 2015, Musk shot back that his company had completed a similar feat three years prior.
The rivalry between two of the world’s most prominent entrepreneurs highlights the importance space could play in the future of technology.
Facebook is also reportedly developing an internet satellite of its own, also aimed at providing service to unserved and underserved areas. As is OneWeb, which is backed by SoftBank.
Meanwhile, the White House has named 5G internet connectivity a priority, along with sending astronauts to Mars. In fact, President Trump appeared to prompt a competition among the billionaires with space interests in June.
“You know, I’ve always said that rich guys seem to like rockets,” Trump said. “So all of those rich guys that are dying for our real estate to launch their rockets, we won’t charge you too much, just go ahead. If you beat us to Mars, we’ll be very happy and you’ll be even more famous.”