Space races are supposed to be won in engineering labs or up in orbit. Thanks to Jeff Bezos, the next one might be won in a courtroom or regulator’s office.

As Bezos’s companies fall behind Elon Musk’s SpaceX in the race to return humans to the moon and launch satellite-based broadband services, they’re increasingly resorting to politics and legal filings to get ahead.

It’s not exactly a novel approach in Washington. But if Bezos prevails, it could do significant damage to America’s commercial space industry, just as it’s starting to get off the ground.