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Amazon Sets the Stage for Five Years of Project Kuiper Satellite Internet Launches

New aerospace agreements will let the company deploy thousands of satellites into low-Earth orbit across 83 launches spread over the next five years.

Amazon/Business Wire

Amazon has reached agreements with Arianespace, Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance to deploy thousands of satellites into low-Earth orbit over the next five years, with an ultimate goal of launching a satellite internet service capable of competing with established names like Hughesnet, Viasat, and Elon Musk's Starlink, a product of SpaceX.

The heavy-lift launch agreements fall under Project Kuiper, Amazon's effort to build a space-based internet service by way of a constellation of satellites orbiting overhead. Amazon ultimately hopes to deploy 3,236 satellites into orbit and says the agreements for 83 launches spread over five years will get the majority of the job done.

"Project Kuiper will provide fast, affordable broadband to tens of millions of customers in unserved and underserved communities around the world," Amazon Devices and Services Senior Vice President Dave Limp said in a statement Tuesday. "We still have lots of work ahead, but the team has continued to hit milestone after milestone across every aspect of our satellite system."

Locating local internet providers

One such potential milestone: Development of the home terminal people will ultimately install to connect their home with the constellation overhead. Amazon received approval from the US Federal Communications Commission for its constellation back in 2020, and the company cited breakthroughs with its "low-cost customer terminal" allowing it to deliver speeds as fast as 400Mbps, which is excellent by satellite standards. Balancing that sort of performance with the associated costs will be the challenge, as key competitors like Starlink have struggled to make the technology affordable for users.

With Tuesday's new launch agreements, Amazon is positioned to get Project Kuiper off the ground over the next few years, potentially closing the gap with established competitors.

Locating local internet providers

"Securing launch capacity from multiple providers has been a key part of our strategy from day one," said Rajeev Badyal, Amazon's vice president of technology for Project Kuiper. "This approach reduces risk associated with launch vehicle stand-downs and supports competitive long-term pricing for Amazon, producing cost savings that we can pass on to our customers."

Along with 38 launches on United Launch Alliance's Vulcan Centaur heavy-launch vehicle and 18 launches on the Ariane 6 from Europe-based Arianespace (its largest contract to date), Amazon's launch partners include Blue Origin, a private aerospace company led by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. The agreement calls for 12 launches on the company's New Glenn launch vehicle, with options for up to 15 additional launches.

"We're honored to support Amazon's ambitious mission to provide reliable, affordable broadband to unserved and underserved communities around the world through New Glenn and our BE-4 engines," said Jarrett Jones, Blue Origin's senior vice president, New Glenn.

Amazon calls its deal for 83 launches over five years, "the largest commercial procurement of launch vehicles in history." The company adds that it currently has more than 1,000 employees working on Project Kuiper, with an ultimate goal of providing internet service to tens of millions of residential, business and government customers in places without reliable broadband alternatives.