SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos have had a long-held rivalry with each other, despite being the two richest people in the world.
Things finally spilled over this week, in a rare public demonstration of their ongoing feud, when billionaire Tesla boss Musk trolled his counterpart on social media after securing a $2.9 billion contract ahead of him.
NASA announced that SpaceX was the sole winner of the contract to build a spacecraft that will land humans on the moon again, beating Bezos' company Blue Origin and a third company, US defence contractor Dynetics.
It led to Musk tweeting that Bezos “can’t get it up (to orbit)”.
He also later claimed Bezos tends to be a more hands-on boss for his space venture to be successful, telling the Washington Post: “I think he needs to run Blue Origin full time for it to be successful. Frankly, I hope he does”.
Mr Bezos did not reply to Mr Musk on Twitter. But In a statement Blue Origin said: "Nasa has executed a flawed acquisition and moved the goalposts at the last minute. "Their decision….not only delays, but also endangers America's return to the Moon."
It's not the first time the two have had clear differences on their working strategy.
The pair first met in 2004, having a meal together to discuss space.
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A photo said to be from that first meeting recently resurfaced, and after a fan tweeted it Musk responded: "Wow, hard to believe that was 17 years ago!"
And that first conversation captures the different approaches that have allowed both men to forge such successful paths in the industry and make their billions.
While Bezos hasn't publicly discussed the meal, Musk described their meeting to Christian Davenport for his book The Space Barons.
Musk said Bezos was "barking up the wrong tree" about rockets and that SpaceX had already tried several of the ideas Bezos was proposing, calling them "dumb".
The book reads: "'We talked about rocket architectures,' Musk later recalled. 'It was very clear technically he was barking up the wrong tree, and I tried to give him the best advice I could. Some of the engine architectures they were pursuing were the wrong evolutionary path.'"
It adds: "Some of the ideas that Bezos proposed, SpaceX had already been tested, Musk said.
"'Dude, we tried that and that turned out to be really dumb, so I'm telling you don't do the dumb thing we did,' he recalled saying.
"'I actually did my best to give good advice, which he largely ignored.'"
Fast forward a few years and problems between the two companies started escalating.
In his book, Elon Musk: Inventing the Future, Ashlee Vance claims Blue Origin started trying to poach the best of SpaceX's employees.
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Vance writes: “'Blue Origin does these surgical strikes on specialised talent offering like double their salaries. I think it’s unnecessary and a bit rude,' Musk said.
"Within SpaceX, Blue Origin is mockingly referred to as BO and at one point the company created an e-mail filter to detect messages with 'blue' and 'origin' to block the poaching.
"The relationship between Musk and Bezos has soured, and they no longer chat about their shared ambition of getting to Mars.
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"'I do think Bezos has an insatiable desire to be King Bezos,' Musk said. 'He has a relentless work ethic and wants to kill everything in e-commerce. But he’s not the most fun guy, honestly.'"
For the past several months, Bezos and Musk have also been jockeying for the title of the richest person in the world.
Bezos is currently the richest, with a fortune of $198.8 billion, while Musk, with a net worth of about $172.6 billion, is in second place.
Bezos announced on February 2, 2021, that he would be stepping down as chief executive of Amazon and in his letter to Amazon employees, he said he wanted to put time and energy into other passions and listed Blue Origin among them, meaning their rivalry may yet go stratospheric.
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