Amazon want to provide fast, affordable broadband to unserved and underserved communities around the world. To do this they plan to launch and deploy their first two satellites by the end of next year in a programme named Project Kuiper.
Amazon have filed an experimental license application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch, deploy, and operate two prototype satellites – KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2. They will enable Amazon to test the communications and networking technology that will be used in their our final satellite design, and help validate launch operations and mission management procedures that will be used when deploying their full constellation.
“We’ve invented lots of new technology to meet our cost and performance targets for Project Kuiper. All of the systems are testing well in simulated and lab settings, and we’ll soon be ready to see how they perform in space. There is no substitute for on-orbit testing, and we expect to learn a lot given the complexity and risk of operating in such a challenging environment. We can’t wait to get started.”
– Rajeev Badyal, vice president of technology, Project Kuiper
KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2 will include much of the technology and sub-systems that power the production version of Amazon’s satellite design, including phased array and parabolic antennas, power and propulsion systems, and custom-designed modems. The team will also conduct experimental tests using prototypes of Amazon’s low-cost customer terminal, which has been designed to provide fast, reliable service at a more affordable price than legacy antennas.
ABL Space Systems will support these initial launches using its all-new RS1 rocket. Launches will take place at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Amazon won’t be using Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space company as that’s only designed for space tourism and can’t do the useful stuff like launching satellites.
The interesting question will be how much of this is true benevolence or will it turn out that once unserved community start shopping on Amazon once they are connected to the Internet?