Amazon's Satellite Internet Service, Project Kuiper, Gets a Launch Partner
Project Kuiper is poised to compete with Starlink, the satellite internet system from SpaceX. To launch the initial batch of satellites, Amazon plans on using the Atlas V rocket from United Launch Alliance.
Amazon plans on using the Atlas V rocket from United Launch Alliance (ULA) and has secured nine launches to deliver the first batch of satellites.
The company’s goal with Project Kuiper is to supply fast and affordable broadband to tens of millions of people without reliable internet. But for now, Amazon is remaining mum on launch dates. A company spokesperson merely pointed out Project Kuiper must deploy 50% of the satellite network by 2026 under current FCC obligations.
Project Kuiper is poised to compete with Starlink, the satellite internet system from SpaceX. But Amazon has some serious catching up to do. SpaceX has already conducted 24 launches for Starlink, which is now delivering high-speed internet to customers in the US, Canada, and Europe through 1,300 satellites.
How much Project Kuiper will cost remains unknown. But in December, Amazon said the system was already capable of enabling 400Mbps download speeds to users on Earth.
Interestingly, Amazon chose ULA over Blue Origin—the aerospace company founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos—to deliver the first Project Kuiper satellites into orbit. “ULA is a fantastic partner that’s successfully launched dozens of missions for commercial and government customers, and we’re grateful for their support of Kuiper,” Bezos said in the announcement.
Amazon also says the Atlas V rocket has been a “highly reliable launch vehicle,” with a “100% success rate” over 85 launches. (An Atlas V rocket was also used to send NASA’s Perseverance rover to Mars.)
Nevertheless, it’s possible Amazon could end up tapping Blue Origin in the future. “Launching a constellation on this scale is no small feat, and we will need multiple launch vehicles and launch partners to support our deployment schedule,” Amazon said.
Project Kuiper’s goal is to eventually operate 3,236 satellites in low orbit. Amazon says it’s already committed $10 billion to the system's development.