Amazon has successfully launched its first two prototype satellites for Project Kuiper, setting the stage for the debut of the company’s satellite internet system. The launch, which took place on Friday, marks a significant milestone for Amazon’s plan to deploy a network of 3,326 satellites in low Earth orbit, providing high-speed internet access worldwide.
The two satellites, known as KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2, were launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Amazon’s Project Kuiper aims to offer internet services similar to SpaceX’s Starlink, and these prototypes will serve as a testbed to showcase the system’s capabilities in sending and receiving broadband signals.
Facing delays in the mission, Amazon had to switch launch vehicles several times before settling on the Atlas V rocket for the Protoflight mission. Regulatory requirements mandate that half of the Kuiper constellation must be launched by 2026.
While specific details about the size and design of Amazon’s satellites have been limited, the company has said it plans to allocate over $10 billion to the project, highlights what it will take to compete in the satellite internet space against SpaceX.
Project Kuiper enters a highly competitive market dominated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which has already grown its Starlink satellite internet service to over 2 million customers. Amazon aims to launch its first production Kuiper satellites in the first half of the next year, with beta testing for customers slated to commence by the end of 2024.
To complement its satellite network, Amazon has already revealed a trio of satellite antennas designed to deliver high-speed connectivity to Kuiper customers. While pricing details are yet to be disclosed, initial field testing showed download speeds of up to 400 Mbps, promising an enhanced internet experience for users.