Amazon Picks SpaceX to Launch Some Project Kuiper Satellites

In a surprising turn of events, Amazon has announced it is purchasing three rocket launches from its chief competitor, SpaceX, for its Project Kuiper internet satellite initiative.

The agreement involves three launches aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets, scheduled for mid-2025. While financial terms were undisclosed, this collaboration signals a significant shift in Amazon’s strategy as it seeks to adhere to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations, requiring the deployment of half of its planned 3,236 satellites by July 2026.

So far Amazon has launched only two prototype satellites. The company is preparing to start satellite manufacturing ahead of a full-scale deployment beginning in the first half of 2024, with the expectation to have enough satellites deployed to begin early customer pilots in the second half of 2024.

The unexpected partnership comes as both Amazon and SpaceX engage in a race to deploy extensive satellite constellations to provide global internet connectivity. With Project Kuiper and Starlink representing multibillion-dollar ventures, the collaboration between these tech giants highlights the dynamic nature of the space industry.

This move by Amazon marks a departure from its previous reliance on SpaceX’s competitors, such as Blue Origin, for rocket launches. The decision to engage with SpaceX is particularly noteworthy given the history of rivalry between Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, both influential figures in the space exploration sector.

While the partnership seems unlikely given their history, Musk said his company “will treat them as well as we treat our own satellite launches. Fair & square.”

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