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Elon Musk’s SpaceX ‘huge concern’ for Lazard banker

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX ‘huge concern’ for Lazard banker

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SpaceX rockets are soaring into the skies with ever-increasing frequency, and while it might be a boon for Elon Musk, not everyone’s happy about it.

Over the past couple of years, interest in—and the untapped potential of—space has captured the attention of some of the biggest names in business: Musk, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Andy Jassy to name a few.

The space race—be it for commercial “tourism” services or to launch satellites for internet—has one clear winner, however: Musk’s SpaceX, with 263 launches to date.

That’s a problem, says Vikram Nidamaluri, managing director of telecom, media, and entertainment at Lazard, because a potential early monopoly could hamstring the industry in the future.

Speaking at the World Satellite Business Week in Paris this week, Nidamaluri said: “I think it’s a huge concern. Having such a dominant launch provider is probably not healthy just in general for the commercial prospects of the industry.”

“No one wants a monopoly choking out one point of the value chain. There are obviously other players that are ramping up capacity but I think the timeline hasn’t moved forward rapidly enough,” he continued, CNBC reports.

Pushing back

During a separate panel, SpaceX’s Vice President Tom Ochinero pushed back on being branded a monopoly, pointing out that the company had launched satellites other than Starlink—a subsidiary of the brand.

The company has previously launched satellites for London-based OneWeb, mobile network operator EchoStar and global communications company Viasat.

Responding to the question of if SpaceX would launch satellites outside of its own interests, CNBC reports Ochinero said: “We’ve proven that, yeah, we will. We’re a launch company first, we’re here to provide launches.”

Although acknowledging that Starlink—a low-orbit satellite internet service—is a “big internal customer” Ochinero also pointed out SpaceX had previously moved such launches in order to prioritize work for competitors.

“I’m not super worried about this–we’re here to launch,” Ochinero finished.

Space X did not immediately respond to Fortune’s request for comment.

Who is the competition?

Of those determined to stop Musk dominating the space race, Amazon founder Bezos might have the most motivation.

The long-established rivals have previously sparred about their launches, with Musk claiming Bezos is a “copycat” for founding Blue Origin, an American aerospace manufacturer that will be among three companies that launch Amazon’s Kuiper internet satellites.

Indeed, the rivalry between the pair is so heated that some Amazon shareholders are claiming it may have lost them money: they launched a suit earlier this month alleging SpaceX had been overlooked by the online giant because of the feud.

However, while SpaceX races ahead with the number of launches—predominantly thanks to its “workhorse” model, the Falcon 9—Blue Origin has had just 22.

The closest rival to SpaceX is actually United Launch Alliance (ULA), which has had near-160 launches to date and is creating its own new rocket, the Vulcan.

Speaking at the summit, ULA CEO Tory Bruno also shut down rumors of a monopoly and threw down something of a gauntlet, saying: “I appreciate the sentiment that [SpaceX] will be a benevolent monopoly, I don’t think you’re a monopoly and I don’t think it’s our plan for you to become one.”

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