Amazon To Launch Test Satellites In An Effort To Bring Internet To Underserved Areas

Project Kuiper
Project Kuiper

Amazon continues to make progress on Project Kuiper, a low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation that will provide fast, affordable broadband to unserved and underserved communities around the world.

“This is a major, long-term initiative, and today we’re excited to share plans to launch and deploy our first satellites.”

Introducing KuiperSat-1 and 2

This morning, Amazon filed an experimental license application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch, deploy, and operate two prototype satellites for Project Kuiper.

These satellites—KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2—are an important step in the development process. They allow Amazon to test the communications and networking technology that will be used in final satellite design, and help validate launch operations and mission management procedures that will be used when deploying 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,” said Rajeev Badyal, vice president of technology for Project Kuiper.

“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.”

KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2 will include much of the technology and sub-systems that power the production version of Amazon 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 our low-cost customer terminal, which has been designed to provide fast, reliable service at a more affordable price than legacy antennas.

A visual to illustrate Amazon's Project Kuiper satellite launch
Infographic explaining the communications test sequence for our prototype satellites. See full-size image.

Protecting Earth and space

Amazon is committed to being a responsible steward of Earth and space, and we’ve architected our system and operational procedures to help protect others operating in and around low Earth orbit. KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2 are designed for atmospheric demise and will be actively deorbited after the mission, and our application outlines additional measures we’re taking to avoid and mitigate the risk of orbital debris.

The team is also committed to working with astronomers and others in the industry to reduce the visibility of Kuiper System satellites.

“We’ve joined several conferences to engage directly with organizations like the National Science Foundation and the American Astronomical Society and are applying learnings from those discussions to our prototype plans.”

For example, one of the two prototype satellites will include a sunshade to help us understand whether it is an effective way to reduce reflectivity and mitigate its impact on ground-based optical telescopes. We will collect data to compare reflectivity between the two spacecraft, and share any learnings with the astronomy community following the mission.

Multi-launch agreement with ABL Space Systems

“Alongside our FCC application, we’re also excited to announce an agreement with ABL Space Systems to support these initial launches using its all-new RS1 rocket.”

Launches will take place at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

“Kuiper’s mission to bring high-speed, low-latency broadband service to underserved communities is highly motivating for our team here at ABL,” said Harry O’Hanley, CEO of ABL.

“Amazon will play a central role in the next generation of space infrastructure, and we’re proud to have been selected as their launch partner for these critical early flights.”

Amazon continues to invest in Project Kuiper as we approach full production launches and prepare to serve tens of millions of customers around the world. There are now more than 750 people working on the project, and Amazon plan to add hundreds more to the team in the coming year.

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