Amazon.com said Thursday that two of its prototype satellites for its planned Kuiper Internet network are successfully operating in orbit, with the project on track to begin launching operational satellites by mid-2024. Kuiper Internet Networks is set to compete against billionaire Elon Musk’s Starlink, the world’s largest satellite operator, to provide broadband internet service to consumers, companies and governments globally. Amazon said it had achieved a 100 percent success rate within the first 30 days of launch of prototype satellites from Florida on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.
Amazon said it used prototype satellites to make brief two-way video calls, stream high-definition movies on Prime Video, and order items from Amazon’s website. “We still have a lot of hard work to do and scaling up production to a larger scale will not be easy,” said Rajeev Badyal, vice president of technology for Project Kuiper. The US Federal Communications Commission has asked Amazon to deploy half of its planned satellite constellation of more than 3,000 by 2026.
Badyal told Reuters that following successful prototype tests, Amazon hopes to begin building production-ready satellites next month for launch in the second quarter of 2024. Badial declined to say how many satellites Amazon would launch per rocket.
Badiyal said he expects the network to be able to provide broadband coverage in some parts of the world by the end of 2024, with the initial beta phase aiming to begin in early 2025.
Initial partners such as Vodafone and Verizon are set to become the first telcos to beta test the service.
Amazon last year announced a bulk launch deal for 83 launches from various rocket companies, including Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, ULA and Europe’s Arianespace — its largest commercial rocket purchase to date.
Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance is set to launch the first of several batches of Kuiper satellites on its Atlas 5 and the company’s upcoming Vulcan rockets.
Rival Starlink uses its own in-house SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to launch its network, which has grown to about 5,000 satellites in low-Earth orbit since 2019, enabling nearly global broadband coverage. Does.
© Thomson Reuters 2023
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