Amazon has bought nine launches from the joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin ULA to send satellites for its Kuiper project that broadcasts the Internet to space, marking the first launch agreement for the e-commerce giant. Amazon declined to say how many satellites each launch carries.
The company plans to build a so-called constellation of 3,236 satellites in space to bring the Internet to rural areas of the world that have little or no connectivity. The constellation also represents a major infrastructure boost for its giant AWS cloud computing platform.
Details about the network have been scarce since the Federal Communications Commission approved the launch of the satellite network in July 2020. Amazon is also facing stiff competition from the companies OneWeb and SpaceX, which are deploying broadband internet networks in low Earth orbit.
The Federal Communications Commission is asking Amazon to launch at least half of its Kuiper network - roughly 1,618 satellites - by July 2026. The Atlas V missile missions help Amazon achieve this goal, but the company can use other missiles as well.
SpaceX, which is far ahead of Amazon with its own Internet constellation, is using its Falcon 9 rocket to carry 1,355 satellites out of its 12,000 satellites for its Starlink network so far. OneWeb has launched 146 satellites from nearly 650 satellites planned for its network, and another company, Telesat, plans to launch 300 satellites.
Amazon vice president of technology for Project Kuiper said,the satellites of the project are designed to accommodate different types of missiles, but the ULA deal provides us with a reliable missile to launch Kuiper satellites for the first time.
Kuiper satellites orbit the Earth at altitudes ranging from 590 to 630 km.
Amazon says that Kuiper prototypes have demonstrated speeds of up to 400 Mbps, and performance continues to improve in the future. And last year, the company revealed designs for the antennas customers are using to take advantage of Internet Kuiper. These antennas can also communicate with other satellites in geostationary orbits or deeper orbits at least 22,000 miles away.
Amazon has pledged to invest $ 10 billion in the Kuiper project, and it has more than 500 people working on it, and its team is focused on creating new technology to make broadband affordable and affordable. Low Earth Orbit, where all of these companies' internet satellites are in operation, has become congested as SpaceX advances in deploying Starlink satellites.