Elon Musk praised the CEO for the victory

Elon Musk praised the CEO for the victory

Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos (left) and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. Joe Raedle/Getty Images/Axel Springer

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk‘s candid remarks about his space industry peers, Blue Origin Founder Jeff Bezos and Rocket Lab USA Inc. (NASDAQ:RKLB) CEO Peter Beck, have come to light in an excerpt from a book by Ashlee Vance. The excerpt, published on Bloomberg, unveils an intriguing phone conversation between Musk and Vance back in 2018.

During the call, Musk expressed his admiration for Rocket Lab’s achievement of reaching orbit, stating, “It is impressive that they managed to reach orbit. It’s fu**ing hard.” In the same breath, he took a dig at Bezos, saying, “Bezos has spent a sh**load of money, and he hasn’t made it,” according to Vance’s book “When the Heavens Went on Sale.”

The book explores the privatized space race and focuses on aerospace engineering companies like Rocket Lab. The California-based company, akin to Musk’s SpaceX, has successfully launched rockets into orbit, a feat that has eluded Bezos’s Blue Origin.

Rocket Lab, with a market valuation of $2.4 billion, made its debut on the Nasdaq Inc. Stock Market in 2021 following a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger. The company’s accomplishments become more impressive when considering its CEO’s background. Hailing from southern New Zealand, Beck’s journey stands in stark contrast to the billionaire status and educational pedigree of both Musk and Bezos.

Eschewing the traditional path of higher education, Beck opted for a career in the die-making trade, motivated by the inherent challenges it presented. He honed his skills at a dishwasher manufacturer and conducted research in a government lab. In 2006, Beck founded Rocket Lab, pioneering the first successful launch to space from the Southern Hemisphere with the Atea-1 rocket in 2009. Since then, the company has achieved further milestones, including reaching orbit for the first time in 2018 and launching monitoring satellites, known as TROPICS (Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity of Smallsats), for NASA.

While Blue Origin has also embarked on rocket launches, it has remained suborbital, reaching only the edge of outer space. The company reportedly plans to unveil the New Glenn rocket, capable of achieving orbit, by 2024.

Although Musk’s conversation with Vance primarily revolved around Rocket Lab and its founder, the Tesla Inc. CEO has frequently expressed his thoughts on Bezos and Blue Origin. Over the years, their space ambitions have caused occasional clashes, stemming from discussions on reusable rockets, NASA launchpad usage in 2013 and a patent dispute involving drone ships in 2014.

That said, amidst the rivalry, moments of mutual admiration have also emerged. In 2020, Bezos publicly commended SpaceX’s successful test of the Starship rocket, acknowledging the difficulties involved and congratulating the entire SpaceX team. Musk reciprocated the sentiment when Blue Origin sent William Shatner and others to space in 2021, tweeting his congratulations.

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