“Project Kuiper” launching as rival to the SpaceX satellite system that is already being utilized with success.
While Elon Musk has been shaking-up Twitter, fellow Big Tech billionaire Jeff Bezos’s firm Amazon unveiled plans to launch internet satellites that would directly compete with SpaceX’s “Starlink” service.
Amazon said it will partner with three companies to conduct as many as 83 launches over a five-year period to facilitate “Project Kuiper.” The service will purportedly offer fast, low-cost internet access to underserved communities around the world – the same goal SpaceX has set for Starlink.
Of the 83 total launches, United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, will conduct 38; European firm Arianespace will conduct 18; and Bezos’ private space firm Blue Origin will conduct at least 12, with an option for up to 15 more as needed.
“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,” said Dave Limp, Amazon’s senior vice president of devices and services.
Project Kuiper is Amazon’s plan to build a network of low Earth orbit satellites to provide high-speed internet to anywhere in the world. The FCC issued the license in 2020, and the company has said it will “invest more than $10 billion” to build. However, it is essential to note that, unlike Starlink, Amazon hasn’t even launched a test craft yet.
Amazon is set to begin testing a pair of Kuiper prototype satellites with a launch scheduled for late this year, launching on ABL Space’s RS1 rocket, before moving on to launch operational satellites.
Although Amazon has not said when the Kuiper launch campaign will begin, FCC rules require the company to deploy half of its planned satellites within six years – meaning about 1,600 in orbit by July 2026.
“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,” Dave Limp, Amazon senior vice president of devices and services, said in a statement.
Amazon is going to have to race hard to catch up to Starlink. It is being reported that Ukraine is now using over 10,000 Starlink dishes to help bring the internet to war-torn areas across the country.
“So, right now, it’s more than 10,000 units in Ukraine,” Alex Bornyakov, the country’s deputy minister of digital transformation, told The Washington Post in a video stream on Tuesday.
According to Bornyakov, the Ukrainian government has been installing the Starlink dishes in areas hit hard by the Russian invasion. This includes the cities of Chernihiv and Mariupol, which the Russian military have attempted to take over.
The US Air Force is currently testing high-speed communications options to support their F-35A fighter jet in remote locations, and Starlink is one of those options being tested.
What makes the Starlink setup ideal for their use is the fact the required equipment can fit inside the F-35’s travel pod, and the system can be operational in less than 10 minutes and set up by any trained Airman.
“Really, what we want to have is options for communications. We don’t have the infrastructure in every possible location, but with this we could go to SATCOM or cellular LTE and then go to offline capabilities as a last resort. The fact that anyone can be trained to set it up gives us more manpower options and brings another element to creating Multi-Capable Airman,” said 1st Lt. Corbin Meredith, 388th OSS.
In their testing they found Starlink more than capable compared to the current military satellite internet capability, which not only requires a longer lead time to be set up, but also does not transmit data fast enough for remote F-35 operations.
I wish the Amazon team a ton of good luck with “Project Kuiper,” and I offer Musk prayers for strength and courage as he wades into the sewer that is Twitter.DONATE
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