Amazon has decided to jump into the satellite internet race against Starlink by launching 83 rockets under Project Kuiper.
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Amazon Inc. announced on Tuesday that they signed three companies for 83 launches over five years to deploy a 3,236 low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation, making it one of the largest rocket transactions in the commercial space industry’s history heating up the satellite internet space race.
Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite broadband service will be challenged by Amazon’s Project Kuiper. Kuiper intends to supply users in rural areas with high-speed, low-latency broadband. Amazon will have low-cost customer terminals and a ground-based communications network, similar to Starlink.
“Project Kuiper will provide fast, affordable broadband to tens of millions of customers in unserved and underserved communities around the world,” said Dave Limp, Senior Vice President of Amazon Devices & Services.
There was no indication of when Arianespace, Blue Origin, and United Launch Alliance would begin launching the 3,236-satellite LEO constellation. However, in the second half of this year, Amazon plans to begin testing a pair of Kuiper prototype satellites. Kuiper plans to have half of its satellites in LEO by 2026, according to FCC papers.
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Arianespace: 18 launches of Europe’s Ariane 6 rocket
Blue Origin: 12 launches via the New Glenn rocket, with options for 15 additional launches
United Launch Alliance: 38 launches via the Vulcan rocket
“We still have lots of work ahead, but the team has continued to hit milestone after milestone across every aspect of our satellite system. These launch agreements reflect our incredible commitment and belief in Project Kuiper, and we’re proud to be working with such an impressive lineup of partners to deliver on our mission,” Limp added.
Kuiper’s internet service will compete with Elon Musk’s Starlink. Starlink currently has over 1,900 LEO satellites and 250,000 customers. People in rural areas and even conflict zones have already seen exceptional speeds thanks to next-generation satellite internet. This map shows where Starlink is available in the United States.
Internet from space appears to be the way of the future, and while Starlink is currently the lone consumer provider, Amazon’s Kuiper isn’t far behind.