Amazon CEO and world’s richest man Jeff Bezos took to Instagram on Wednesday to congratulate SpaceX founder and fellow tech billionaire Elon Musk on the test launch of his Starship rocket, which ended in a spectacular explosion on the launchpad.
The 16-story-tall rocket designed to fulfil Musk’s dream of shuttling humans to and from Mars, was expected to fly 41,000 feet into the sky, though it is yet unclear whether or not it reached that altitude. The spacecraft exploded upon landing, though the explosion was somewhat expected. Musk had earlier alluded to the fact that there was a high likelihood the test would fail.
Bezos, who owns his own space-exploration company, Blue Origin wrote, “Anybody who knows how hard this stuff is is impressed by today’s Starship test. Big congrats to the whole @SpaceX team. I’m confident they’ll be back at it soon.”
SpaceX, Blue Origin and Leidos-owned Dynetics, are all currently competing for a lucrative contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA selected the three companies to submit designs for lunar landers to return humans to the moon.
The companies now have 10 months to develop their designs for the Artemis mission, which aims to send a manned spacecraft back to the moon by 2024, the first time it will have done so since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
NASA will reportedly pay the three companies close to a billion dollars for the initial design stage.