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Amazon may launch first two Kuiper satellites by end of 2022

Amazon may launch first two Kuiper satellites by end of 2022
Photo Credit: 123RF.com
2 Nov, 2021

Amazon plans to launch its first two prototype satellites by the end of 2022. According to a launch license that the company has applied for, the company’s satellite-internet project will launch its first two satellites by the fourth quarter of 2022. The two satellites are called KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2 and they will launch on a rocket called RS1, which is an experimental rocket being developed by California-based ABL Space Systems.

The company’s eventual plans are to launch 3236 low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites over the next 10 years. Like other satellite Internet projects, Amazon too aims to provide low-latency broadband connectivity in remote areas. Billionaire Elon Musk’s Starlink and Bharti Airtel-backed OneWeb are planning similar efforts.

Starlink plans to launch almost 12000 LEO satellites, while OneWeb plans to launch 648 satellites. On October 14, OneWeb announced that it had launched 36 new satellites from Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome, bringing the company’s tally up to 358, which covers half of its planned fleet. On the other hand, Starlink has launched 1700 of its planned fleet.

Amazon had acquired Facebook’s satellite Internet team in July, adding over a dozen experts to its team. The company showcased the thrusters on its satellites on October 27, which is a sign that it’s getting closer to launch. However, Amazon is clearly well behind its competitors in this space right now. Both OneWeb and Starlink aim to start providing services to customers by the end of next year.

Satellite internet companies have all promised to bring low-latency 5G to remote areas, especially areas that aren’t well suited to laying fiber lines. Sending satellites to space ahead of launch is required to perform in-orbit tests, which includes a suite of tests designed to verify the performance of satellites and other operational aspects.