The competition to build a next-generation Moon lander for NASA’s Artemis program has ended with victorious SpaceX boss Elon Musk trolling his rival, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

After securing the $2.9 billion contract, the billionaire Tesla boss tweeted that that Bezos “can’t get it up (to orbit).”

NASA has announced that SpaceX was the sole winner of the contract to build a spacecraft that will land humans on the moon again, beating out Blue Origin and a third company, US defence contractor Dynetics.

Musk added that Bezos ends 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”.

Bezos’s Blue Origin team don't seem to be taking the loss as light-heartedly as Musk, calling NASA’s decision “flawed” and claiming the agency had “moved the goalposts at the last minute”.The company has filed a formal protest at the US Government Accountability Office.

Bob Smith, chief executive of Blue Origin, says that it was unusual to make what he describes as a mistake: “It’s really atypical for NASA to make these kinds of errors,” he told The New York Times. “They’re generally quite good at acquisition, especially its flagship missions like returning America to the surface of the moon. We felt that these errors needed to be addressed and remedied.”

NASA has declined to comment on the matter “due to pending litigation.”

Bezos founded Blue Origin 21 years ago. As yet, the company has yet to see one of its spacecraft reach orbit. By contrast SpaceX has been hugely successful, with multiple satellite launches and three crewed missions to the International Space Station.

But both of the tech billionaires believe that humanity future lies out there in the stars.

Jeff Bezos says that it’s essential for humanity to gain a foothold in orbit, and eventually on other planets before resources are exhausted on Earth.

"We will run out of energy on earth," Bezos said at a launch event for his Blue Moon lander in 2019. "This is just arithmetic, it's going to happen."

He added that by finding more space for humanity to grow, there will be more scope for the species to develop.

”We could have a trillion humans in the solar system,” he said. “This would mean 1,000 Mozarts and 1,000 Einsteins. This would be an incredible civilisation”.

Two years before that speech, Elon Musk was warning that humanity needed to establish colonies off-planet because sooner or later Earth was bound to be destroyed: “I think there are really two fundamental paths,” he wrote in 2017.

“History is going to bifurcate along two directions. One path is we stay on Earth forever, and then there will be some eventual extinction event. I do not have an immediate doomsday prophecy, but eventually, history suggests, there will be some doomsday event.

"The alternative is to become a space-faring civilisation and a multiplanetary species, which I hope you would agree is the right way to go.”

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