Amazon’s Project Kuiper to Compete Against Musk’s Starlink Internet After Historic Space Launch Deal

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Amazon announced it had secured 83 rocket launches from three commercial space companies — Arianespace, Blue Origin, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) — in what the company says is the largest commercial procurement of space launch services in history.

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The rockets are for Amazon’s Project Kuiper, a low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite system designed to provide fast, affordable broadband to unserved and underserved communities around the world, according to an announcement.

 “These agreements mean we have enough capacity to carry into space the majority of the 3,236 satellites that make up our satellite constellation,” Amazon said in the announcement.

The three agreements include 38 launches on ULA’s Vulcan Centaur rocket, 18 launches on Arianespace’s Ariane 6, and 12 launches on Blue Origin’s New Glenn, with options for 15 additional launches.

“Together, they represent the largest commercial procurement of space launch services in history, and our investments will support thousands of suppliers and highly skilled jobs in the space industry across the United States and Europe,” the announcement read, in part.

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Amazon said that once deployed, the Kuiper System will serve individual households, as well as schools, hospitals, businesses, disaster relief efforts, government agencies and other organizations operating in places without reliable broadband.

Amazon SVP Dave Limp said that “securing launch capacity from multiple providers reduces scheduling risk and helps the company secure competitive, long-term pricing that it can pass on to Project Kuiper customers as cost savings.”

“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, and we’re proud to be working with such an impressive lineup of partners to deliver on our mission,” Limp said via a press release.

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Ars Technica reports that in building out its Project Kuiper constellation, Amazon is going head-to-head with SpaceX and its Starlink constellation. Based on the timing of its first launches, Amazon is running about four years behind SpaceX, Ars Technica added, saying that Amazon is also behind SpaceX because it does not have its own rocket — and that no one in the industry can currently compete with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 on price or launch cadence.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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