Amazon is nearly ready to begin deploying its Kuiper satellite internet constellation, with plans to launch the first two next year.
Project Kuiper is designed to compete with SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet but has yet to launch any satellites. The company now plans to launch the first two prototype satellites in early 2023, using United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) new Vulcan Centaur rocket.
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 rocket will launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, and our prototype satellites are scheduled to share the ride with the Peregrine lunar lander, a NASA-funded spacecraft from Astrobotic.
Amazon has deals for 92 launches with ULA, Blue Origin, and Arianespace. The launches will deploy a total of 3,236 Kuiper satellites. The initial prototype launch will help provide Amazon with the necessary data to ensure subsequent launches are successful.
“We couldn’t be more excited to join the first launch of ULA’s Vulcan Centaur. 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,” said Rajeev Badyal, vice president of technology for Project Kuiper. “Our prototype satellites will be ready this year, and we look forward to flying with ULA.”