Fri, December 09, 2022

Amazon inks rocket deal for satellite broadband network

Amazon

Amazon.com Inc. announced on Tuesday that it inked contracts for 83 launches, signing on with three companies for its Project Kuiper internet satellites.

Remarkably, it is the biggest rocket deal in the history of commercial space.

The e-commerce giant signed contracts for 38 launches with United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

ULA will use its Vulcan rockets; each will set off 45 Kuiper satellites to orbit. However, the American spacecraft manufacturer did not disclose the base price of each launch.

Previously, the United States government purchased each rocket for about $112.00 million.

At the same time, Amazon partnered with Arianespace for 18 launches. Each rocket will carry between 35 and 40 Kuiper satellites on each mission.

Similarly, the European rocket builder has not specified Ariane 6′s price structure. It has previously said a base tag of $77.00 million per launch.

In addition, the tech firm would have 12 launches with Blue Origin, with another 15 additional with a private venture.

The Washington-based aerospace business would use its New Glenn rockets at $68.00 million per launch.

Project Kuiper mirrored the firm’s plan to build a network of 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit. This would provide high-speed internet across the globe.

In 2020, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorized the company’s system. The internet giant has said it will invest more than $10.00 billion to build the project.

Amazon would begin testing a pair of Kuiper prototype satellites with a launch scheduled for late this year.

This move put ABL Space’s RS1 rocket into orbit before moving on to lift off operational satellites. Nevertheless, Amazon did not specify when the Kuiper launch campaign would start.

Amazon to take on Elon Musk’s Starlink

Amazon spends billions on putting together a satellite constellation that will rival SpaceX’s Starlink.

The race to beam broadband internet heats up, with Elon Musk’s company gaining an advantage over other players.

SpaceX has established a sizable lead over the e-commerce giant. It has already set off 2,000 Starlink satellites, serving about 250,000 subscribers.

Meanwhile, Project Kuiper plans to set its first two prototypes before the end of the year.

According to the FCC rules, the company must deploy half of its planned space stations within six years. Correspondingly, there must be 1,600 in orbit by July 2026.

Amazon secured launch capacity from multiple providers to reduce risks associated with vehicle stand-downs. It would also save customers on unprecedented additional costs.

For instance, Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine has faced multiple delays from its recent launches.

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