After Elon Musk accused Amazon of using the legal system to block SpaceX’s progress, the retail giant responded by sending several news outlets a long list of lawsuits and legal actions filed by its aerospace rival over the years.
The 13-page list documents 39 such actions, stretching back to 2004, when Musk was attempting to get SpaceX – still a start-up venture at the time – off the ground. It is separated into three categories, including “litigation and protests,” protests filed with top US audit body Government Accountability Office (GAO), and “opposition” actions filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The apparently unsolicited list was sent out after Musk told an interviewer at a tech conference on Tuesday, in reference to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, that “you can’t sue your way to the Moon, no matter how good your lawyers are.” Musk was responding to a question about a lawsuit against NASA brought by rival space firm Blue Origin, which is headed by Bezos.
Last month, Blue Origin sued NASA after it lost out to SpaceX on a $2.9 billion government contract to put astronauts on the Moon. The suit has led to ongoing delays in SpaceX’s work developing a lunar lander for the Artemis project.
According to tech news outlet The Verge, which published the document, the list – complete with notes by Amazon detailing each legal action – offers a glimpse into how closely the Bezos-founded company has been following and monitoring SpaceX’s actions.
The outlet noted that the document also includes “more procedural actions,” such as when SpaceX filed advocacy opinions regarding how the US government should allocate spectrum bands for satellite communications. Both companies are fierce competitors in the growing satellite internet market.
“It is difficult to reconcile their own historical record with their recent position on others filing similar actions,” an unidentified spokesperson for Amazon’s satellite division, Project Kuiper, reportedly wrote in an email to the outlet that included the list as an attachment.
Last month, Project Kuiper filed a protest with the FCC, urging the agency to reject SpaceX’s plans to deploy another group of satellites to power its Starlink satellite network. While not a formal lawsuit, the letter prompted a sarcastic verbal shot from Musk about how Bezos had apparently retired as Amazon CEO to take up a “full-time job filing lawsuits” against his aerospace firm.
“SpaceX is well aware, having benefitted from its own frequent protests and court filings against NASA and the US Air Force, that such actions are common practice in the government procurement process,” an unnamed Blue Origin spokesperson said in an email to The Verge that “agree(d) fully” with Amazon’s contention about SpaceX’s “long track record” of taking legal action.
Although SpaceX has not yet responded to Amazon’s media offensive, Musk later tweeted that his company had “sued to be *allowed* to compete” while “BO [apparently Blue Origin] is suing to stop competition.”
SpaceX has sued to be *allowed* to compete, BO is suing to stop competition
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 29, 2021
Earlier this month, Amazon filed another list in a complaint with the FCC in which it detailed a number of occasions where it alleged Musk and SpaceX flouted government rules. Among the incidents listed include the time Musk accused the US Federal Aviation Administration of being “fundamentally broken” when it tried to “hold a Musk-led company to flight rules.”