Online retail giant Amazon has reportedly planned to launch the first satellites for Project Kuiper. The company is aiming to launch two satellites, both prototypes, by the fourth quarter of 2022. These satellites will offer affordable and fast internet to underserved and unserved communities around the world. These launches will also help Amazon to enhance its launch procedures and satellite design.
Amazon has stated that the two prototype satellites will be named KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2 and these will be used to test the network technology and communications that will be used in designing the final satellite. It added that the two satellites will have most of the sub-systems and technology that will power the satellite’s production version.
Rajeev Badyal, the Vice President of Technology of Project Kuiper stated that there is no other way to test these satellites than on-orbit testing and looking at the operational risk and complexity of this project, the company expects to learn a lot.
Amazon has signed a contract with a rocket startup ABL Space Systems to perform the low Earth orbit satellite launch. It stated that the constellation of Project Kuiper will ultimately include around 3,236 satellites.
Satellite internet providers like Starlink, OneWeb, and Project Kuiper intend to offer high-speed internet to places that are unserved by the current infrastructure. Customers should be able to connect to satellite internet from any part of the world, making this service valuable for remote communities.
Comparatively, Starlink, the satellite constellation deployed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, is much further in terms of development. Around 2,000 Starlink satellites are already orbiting the Earth and the service comprises thousands of beta testers. SpaceX stated that over 500,000 people have either placed a deposit for or ordered Starlink.
The rivalry between Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk has intensified across various space ventures. Earlier this year, Blue Origin, the rocket company of Bezos, lost a bid to SpaceX for sending NASA astronauts to the moon, which has been challenged in the court.