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Amazon's Project Kuiper secures ULA Atlas V rockets for satellite deployments

The Amazon-led space venture is gearing up to launch thousands of satellites into orbit in order to offer internet service to underserved regions.

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Ry Crist Senior Editor / Reviews - Labs
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
Expertise Smart home technology and wireless connectivity Credentials
  • 10 years product testing experience with the CNET Home team
Ry Crist
2 min read
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Amazon/ULA

Amazon's Project Kuiper announced a deal with the United Launch Alliance on Monday, securing nine Atlas V rockets for the purpose of launching satellites into orbit and offering satellite internet service to underserved regions around the globe.

"Project Kuiper will help bridge the digital divide across the United States and around the world, and we could not be more pleased to be working with Amazon to support the initiative," said ULA president and CEO Tory Bruno.    

Noting its "100% success rate over 85 launches," including the launch of NASA's Perseverance Mars rover and the first launch of a US Space Force satellite, Amazon expressed confidence that its new fleet of ULA rockets can get Project Kuiper off the ground.

Locating local internet providers

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A rendering of an Amazon-branded Atlas V rocket in space.

Amazon

"Atlas V is a highly reliable launch vehicle, and provides the right level of performance, capacity and dependability we need to begin our large-scale deployment," Amazon said in its blog post announcing the deal, which comes less than a year after Amazon won approval from the Federal Communications Commission to launch thousands of satellites into orbit.

"We're determined to make affordable broadband a reality for customers and communities around the world," said Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. "ULA is a fantastic partner that's successfully launched dozens of missions for commercial and government customers, and we're grateful for their support of Kuiper."

Locating local internet providers

Project Kuiper -- which is a separate entity from the private, Jeff Bezos-led space venture Blue Origin -- notes that it will ultimately require multiple launch partners in order to meet its goal of launching more than 3,200 satellites into orbit. The company's end goal is the formation of a "constellation" of satellites capable of transmitting an internet connection of up to 400Mbps to homes and businesses equipped with an antenna that can receive the signal.

"We've designed our satellites and dispenser system to accommodate multiple launch vehicles," said Rajeev Badyal, Project Kuiper's VP of technology. "This gives us the flexibility to use many different rockets and providers to launch our satellite system."

Project Kuiper's Atlas V deployments will launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, ULA says. No dates have been announced yet, but Amazon, which says it has already invested more than $10 billion into Project Kuiper, is hoping to move fast against competition from more established names in the satellite internet space, including HughesNet, Viasat and Starlink, a recent insurgent from SpaceX and Elon Musk.

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Watch this: Testing Out SpaceX Starlink Satellite Internet