Amazon Signs on Launch Partners for Space Internet
Amazon announced on Tuesday that it will launch a “constellation” of satellites in low orbit around the Earth to give internet connection to people on the ground.
Amazon said that its contracts with Arianespace, Blue Origin, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) are the largest commercial procurement of launch vehicles in history.
The whole cost and timing of launches scheduled to bring Amazon’s Project Kuiper to life were not revealed.
“We still have a lot of work ahead of us,” Amazon senior vice president Dave Limp said in a statement. “But the team has continued to hit milestone after milestone across every facet of our satellite system.”
“Project Kuiper will connect tens of millions of people in unserved and underserved places around the world to fast, inexpensive internet.”
Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, has already launched more than 1,500 satellites into orbit to form the Starlink internet service network.
Boeing entered the space internet competition late last year, obtaining US approval for satellites that will provide internet services from above.
According to Amazon, Project Kuiper intends to bring high-speed broadband internet connection to households, schools, hospitals, companies, disaster relief operations, and others in areas where there is no stable connectivity.
Amazon is building Kuiper in-house and intends to employ capabilities already in place in other Amazon divisions, including logistics and the AWS cloud computing arm.
Musk forged a partnership with Microsoft, Amazon’s biggest cloud computing competitor, to leverage Microsoft’s Azure platform to provide his version of satellite-powered internet service.
With Blue Origin receiving some of Amazon’s launch contracts, one Bezos operation will be feeding revenue to another.
Bezos has invested some of his Amazon fortunes in Blue Origin, a private space exploration company.
In a joint statement, Blue Origin senior vice president Jarrett Jones stated, “We’re thrilled to help Amazon’s ambitious ambition to bring reliable, affordable broadband to unserved and underserved regions around the world.”
According to Rajeev Badyal, vice president of technology at Project Kuiper, it was Amazon’s aim from the start to enlist various rocket launch firms.
According to Badyal, the technique decreases the possibility of launch delays delaying the project and saves Amazon money through competitive pricing.
“With these massive, heavy-lift rockets, we’ll be able to deploy more of our constellation with fewer launches, simplifying our launch and deployment schedule,” Badyal explained.
A large number of launch reservations was expected to bolster the business in both the United States and Europe.
Arianespace, for example, uses suppliers from 13 European countries to build its Ariane 6 rockets, according to Badyal.
Ariane 6 rockets will be used in eighteen of the contractual launches.
In a statement, Arianespace CEO Stephane Israel said, “This contract, the largest we’ve ever signed, is a fantastic moment in Arianespace’s history.”
“This is a significant victory for Europe’s launcher sector.”
ULA received the most contracts and intended to build a second launch platform at its Cape Canaveral, Florida facility as part of the deal.
Boeing and Lockheed Martin, two American heavyweights, run the joint venture.
“This deal ushers in an exciting new era for ULA and the whole US launch sector,” said Tory Bruno, ULA’s chief executive.