Amazon retaliates against SpaceX in a regulatory spat over satellite constellations

Amazon retaliates against SpaceX in a regulatory spat over satellite constellations

In a letter addressed to Federal Communications Commission, Amazon set out the laundry list of the SpaceX’s regulatory snafus, marking the newest phase in a bare-knuckles war over broadband satellite constellations.

The letter, authored by C. Andrew Keisner, chief counsel for Amazon’s Project Kuiper satellite project, claims that SpaceX has ignored regulatory regulations and that the business despises anyone who attempts to hold it accountable.

“Whether it’s deploying satellites with unapproved antennas, deploying rockets without approval, constructing an unpermitted launch tower, or even reopening a factory in defiance of a shelter-in-place order, SpaceX and other Musk-led companies’ behavior makes their point clear: regulations are for other individuals, and those who insist on or even simply ask compliance are befitting of derision.

This follows SpaceX’s recent claim that Amazon is “more than prepared to exploit regulatory and legal procedures to create barriers designed to delay” its competitors.  Amazon’s letter was described by SpaceX as “another week, another objection” in a letter addressed to the FCC.

SpaceX’s attempt to alter its bid for the next generation of the Starlink satellite constellation is at the center of the verbal battle. SpaceX has already reached the beta-testing its initial network of over 1,600 satellites. It offered two new possibilities for launching tens of thousands of more satellites into low Earth orbit last month.

Meanwhile, Amazon continues to develop its Project Kuiper concept. The Kuiper’s facilities in Redmond, Washington, employ about 500 people. Although antennas are being examined and launch contracts are being made, no satellites have ever been sent into orbit.

Amazon reacted angrily to SpaceX’s latest request, claiming that the company shouldn’t have merged two different deployment methodologies in one proposal.

“Amazon provided a straightforward cure to this simple problem: decide on a single constellation plan (like all others do) and reapply the amendment,” Keisner wrote. “Instead, SpaceX took a more convoluted road using falsehoods, ad hominem attacks, and the notion that it could sway regulators through social media.”

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, took specific aim at Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder who stepped down as the company’s CEO in July, on Twitter. “Turns out Bezos retired in order to undertake a full-time profession filing charges against SpaceX,” Musk tweeted, misspelling Bezos’ name. Musk quipped that “zapping him in the head with the space lasers” would be the cure in another tweet.

Last year, an unapproved test deploys of the SpaceX Starship prototype concluded in an explosion, queries about the development of the Starship launch tower, Tesla’s squabble over a shelter-in-place sequence during the coronavirus pandemic, and SpaceX’s lawsuits — all of which are mentioned in today’s footnote-heavy letter. The majority of the cases were settled, allowing SpaceX and Tesla to continue their operations.

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