Amazon to launch its first prototype internet satellites by 2022
Amazon is getting ready to go to space, as it’s two prototype satellites from Project Kuiper, are scheduled to launch in the fourth quarter of 2022 with formally kicking off its competition with SpaceX and OneWeb, among other rivals, for beaming high-speed internet connections to customers from low Earth orbit.
Amazon unveiled a customer antenna concept in 2020 and has been testing prototype satellites on the ground for years. With Project Kuiper, Amazon aims to build a network of 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit to provide high-speed internet to anywhere in the world.
“KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2 will include much of technology and sub-systems that power the production version of our satellite design – phased array and parabolic antennas, power and propulsion systems, custom-designed modems and more,” Amazon said in a blog post.
The Federal Communications Commission, which regulates satellite communications to the ground, approved Amazon’s network in 2020 and gave the company a deadline to launch half of its 3,236 satellites by mid-2026. Amazon bought nine launches from the rocket company United Launch Alliance in a deal likely worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Like SpaceX, Amazon plans to spend $10 billion on the project, which sits within its device’s unit. But the company has been slower to start than SpaceX, whose Falcon 9 rockets have lofted nearly 2,000 internet-beaming satellites into orbit for its own venture, Starlink. Thousands of customers are testing the SpaceX service for $99 a month with $499 antenna kits.
“We’ll soon be ready to see how [the satellites] perform in space,” Amazon vice president of technology Rajeev Badyal said in a statement. “There is no substitute for on-orbit testing, and we expect to learn a lot given the complexity and risk of operating in such a challenging environment.”
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