Wednesday February 21, 2024

Amazon launches 1st satellites into orbit

Published : 07 Oct 2023, 00:35

Updated : 07 Oct 2023, 01:19

  DF News Desk
The screenshot taken from CNBC's streaming shows Amazon's first pair of satellites blasted into orbit on Oct. 6, 2023, which initiated the company's plan to build a network of satellites in low Earth orbit. Photo: Xinhua.

Amazon's first pair of satellites blasted into orbit on Friday, initiating the company's plan to build a network of satellites in low Earth orbit, reported Xinhua.

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the Protoflight mission for Amazon's satellite network Project Kuiper lifted off at 2:06 p.m. Friday Eastern Time from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Information about the size and design of the pair of Amazon's satellites was not disclosed.

The Protoflight launch is the first mission in a broader commercial partnership between ULA and Amazon to launch the majority of the Project Kuiper constellation.

"This initial launch is the first step in support of deployment of Amazon's initiative to provide fast, affordable broadband service to unserved and underserved communities around the world," said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs.

The two prototype satellites launched on Friday - KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2 - are the first iterations of more than 3,200 satellites Project Kuiper plans to manufacture and deploy over the next six years, according to Amazon.

At the end of the mission, Amazon plans to actively deorbit the two satellites before they ultimately burn up in Earth's atmosphere.

Two prototype satellites will help the Project Kuiper team improve the technology and operations required to deliver fast, affordable broadband from space.

Project Kuiper aims to provide high-speed internet access anywhere in the world. The project plans to help close the digital divide by delivering fast, affordable broadband to a wide range of customers, including consumers, businesses, government agencies, and other organizations operating in places without reliable connectivity.

Amazon is catching up with SpaceX, which has grown its Starlink satellite internet service to more than 2 million customers.

Amazon's first production satellites are on track for launch in the first half of 2024, and it expects to be in beta testing with early commercial customers by the end of 2024, according to the company.

Project Kuiper has secured 77 heavy-lift launches from Arianespace, Blue Origin, and ULA, according to Amazon.