ULA (United Launch Alliance) announced its collaboration with Amazon for the launch of the Project Kuiper satellite internet system. For this, the retailer has allocated an investment of 10 billion dollars and a total of nine launches will be scheduled. According to a statement released on the site of ULA, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing Defense, Space & Security, the launch missions will use Atlas V rockets.
These will be conducted from Space Launch Complex 41 of the US Space Force in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Kuiper project contemplates the launch of a total of 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit; however, both companies did not give details about the number of devices that will be launched in this first phase.
“We have designed our satellites and dispersion system to accommodate multiple launch vehicles, this gives us the flexibility to use many different rockets and launch providers,” Rajeev Badyal, vice president of technology at Project Kuiper, said in a statement. The foregoing signals that Project Kuiper will look to other private space launch providers in the future, including Jeff Bezos’ own company, Blue Origin.
Amazon obtained authorization from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the United States to launch its satellite internet project in 2020. With this, it enters a small but competitive market niche of consumer satellite internet providers, along with the One Web and Starlink systems from Space X.
The market position of Amazon and its competitor Space X has already generated controversies in the regulatory agency, as the latter announced a modification to the Starlink system. Mainly, these will transit to an orbit at a lower altitude than previously approved by the FCC, leading to accusations by Amazon of “stifling competition.”
Finally, in the ULA statement, Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO stated, “We are determined to make affordable broadband service a reality for customers and communities around the world. ULA is a fantastic partner who has successfully delivered dozens of launches for commercial and government clients. ” There is no launch schedule yet for the Project Kuiper satellite internet service, however Amazon expects to have around 1,600 in orbit by 2026.