Meanwhile, Billionaires Have Big Problems
They say "money can't buy happiness" (though it will pay for the search) and it seems despite all their billions, Tesla's Elon Musk and Amazon's Jeff Bezos just can't find a happy middle ground over the control of a historic launch pad at Kennedy Space Center. According to Bloomberg, SpaceX (Musk), and Blue Origin (Bezos) intend to ramp up their launch schedules and "there are a limited number of East Coast established launch sites." Of course, in the new normal we live in, both sides have taken the higher ground and are trying to get Congress' attention, "it doesn’t matter if you’re making buggy whips or rockets, the way to get Congress’ attention is to hire a lobbyist," and sure enough the letters are flying. And after all: what billionaire can be truly satisfied unless they own a rocket launch pad?
In a battle of billionaires, space ventures owned by Internet pioneers Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are relying on prominent former lawmakers as they jockey for control over a historic launch pad at Kennedy Space Center.
SpaceX, already delivering cargo to the station under a $1.6 billion National Aeronautics and Space Administration contract, has former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott on its lobbying team, Senate filings show.
Blue Origin hired two ex-lawmakers, including the former House Science Committee chairman, in May to lobby. In Congress, dozens of lawmakers with opposing views on the issue sent letters to NASA.
Bezos, chief executive of Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), is the bigger of the billionaires. He is No. 17 on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of the world’s wealthiest people, with an estimated net worth of $29.4 billion. Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) and co-founder of PayPal Inc., is No. 135, with an estimated net worth of $8.8 billion.
The competition began after NASA in May began seeking proposals to operate the launch pad,... SpaceX and Blue Origin applied for the launch site lease.
“There are a limited number of East Coast established launch sites,” Chris Quilty, an analyst with Raymond James and Associates in St. Petersburg, Florida, said in a phone interview. “Given the fact that both companies intend to ramp up their launch volume, they need to secure enough launch pads to handle that volume.”
Blue Origin, based in Kent, Washington, and also closely held, hired the lobbying firm K&L Gates LLP the same month NASA sought proposals.... The company spent $20,000 to lobby Congress in June -- its first such expenditures, according to Senate filings.
SpaceX’s Musk has outspent Bezos in campaign contributions. He has made $242,200 in donations since Jan. 1, 2009, supporting Democrats twice as much as Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group. Bezos contributed $24,800 during the same period.
House space subcommittee member Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican, said he was troubled by the campaign donations.
“That’s not to say they’re using political influence to achieve an unfair advantage over competitors at taxpayer expense, but it’s a situation that does require close monitoring and aggressive questioning,”