The satellite internet space race is about to heat up as Amazon Inc. announced Tuesday one of the largest rocket deals in the commercial space industry’s history, signing three companies for 83 launches over five years to deploy a 3,236 low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation.
Amazon’s Project Kuiper plans to take on Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet service. Kuiper aims to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband to customers in rural places. Like Starlink, Amazon will have affordable customer terminals and a ground-based communications network.
No timetable was given when Arianespace, Blue Origin, and United Launch Alliance would begin launching the LEO constellation of 3,236 satellites. However, Amazon is preparing to begin testing a pair of Kuiper prototype satellites in the second half of this year. According to FCC documents, Kuiper is expected to have half of its satellites in LEO by 2026.
- 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 said.