Amazon’s Project Kuiper plans to launch prototype satellites in early 2023


San Francisco, Oct 13

Tech giant Amazon's satellite broadband programme -- Project Kuiper -- will launch two prototype satellites on an upcoming United Launch Alliance (ULA) mission to test system performance in space in early 2023.

Amazon said it created Project Kuiper to deliver fast, affordable broadband to unserved and underserved communities worldwide.

"We couldn't be more excited to join the first launch of ULA's Vulcan Centaur," Rajeev Badyal, vice president of technology for Project Kuiper, said in a statement.

"We've already secured 38 Kuiper launches on Vulcan, and using the same launch vehicle for our prototype mission gives us a chance to practice payload integration, processing, and mission management procedures ahead of those full-scale commercial launches," he added.

According to the tech giant, the first two satellites -- Kuipersat-1 and Kuipersat-2 -- will be completed later this year, and the company is now planning to deploy both satellites on the first flight of ULA's new Vulcan Centaur rocket in early 2023.

"ULA is scheduled to provide 47 launches for our satellite constellation, and using Vulcan Centaur for this mission will give us practical experience working together ahead of those launches," the tech giant said.

The rocket will launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The company's prototype satellites are scheduled to share the ride with the Peregrine lunar lander, a NASA-funded spacecraft from Astrobotic.

"Our prototype mission will help us test how the different pieces of our satellite network work together, adding real-world data from space to results from our extensive lab testing, fieldwork, and simulation," Amazon said.

"We will use findings from the mission to help finalise design, deployment, and operational plans for our commercial satellite system, which will provide reliable, affordable broadband to customers worldwide," it added.

Alongside preparations for this mission, the Project Kuiper team is starting to scale production to support an entire deployment.

Amazon said its first production satellites -- the more advanced spacecraft that will power its commercial broadband service -- are scheduled to launch on ULA's Atlas V rocket.

From there, Amazon will begin to phase in the Vulcan rocket alongside newer heavy-lift rockets from two other space launch companies, Arianespace and Blue Origin.


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