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Amazon’s Maiden Internet Satellite Launch a Success, Puts It in Competition with SpaceX

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Amazon has achieved a milestone with its inaugural satellite launch, marking a significant stride in its ambitious Project Kuiper.

Launch service provider, United Launch Alliance confirmed the success of Amazon’s first foray into satellite deployment, pitting the tech giant directly against SpaceX and its Starlink system.

The aerospace manufacturer’s Atlas V rocket carried the first pair of Project Kuiper satellites into low Earth orbit during the mission dubbed “Protoflight,” which successfully lifted off from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Project Kuiper, Amazon’s internet satellite initiative reminiscent of SpaceX‘s Starlink, has been in development for an extended period. Initially slated to launch prototypes by the previous year’s end, this achievement showcases Amazon’s progress in the space.

“Protoflight is not only a pivotal moment for Amazon’s satellite venture but also an invaluable learning opportunity. It enables Amazon to collect real-world data from space, complementing findings from laboratory and field testing, and offers insights into network performance in terrestrial and space environments. The Protoflight mission encompasses rigorous testing of satellite processing, launch procedures and mission operations.

Following its conclusion, Amazon will actively deorbit both satellites, ensuring they disintegrate harmlessly in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Project Kuiper’s Vice President of Technology, Rajeev Badyal emphasized the significance of on-orbit testing, stating, “We’ve done extensive testing here in our lab and have a high degree of confidence in our satellite design, but there’s no substitute for on-orbit testing.”

Amazon’s debut in the satellite sector promises an invaluable learning experience, irrespective of the mission’s outcome.

Project Kuiper’s ultimate goal is to provide fast and cost-effective broadband connectivity to underserved and unserved communities worldwide.

After securing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval, Amazon plans to deploy more than 3,200 satellites over the next six years. The KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2 prototypes represent the initial steps in this ambitious plan.

Production satellites are anticipated to launch in the first half of 2024, with beta tests involving select customers scheduled for the end of the following year.

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