Amazon took a significant step toward its ambitious satellite constellation project, called “Project Kuiper,” by launching its first two prototypes during a key test mission. The launch took place from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket.
Rajeev Badyal, vice president of technology at Project Kuiper, highlighted the importance of the event, noting that it is the first time Amazon has placed satellites in space. The two prototypes launched will be subjected to tests and subsequently removed from orbit, disintegrating into the Earth’s atmosphere at the end of their mission.
Amazon’s Project Kuiper aims to deploy a constellation of 3,200 satellites over the next six years. These satellites will provide Internet services from space, directly competing with Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Ground contact tests and instrument review will be carried out after the satellites reach 500 kilometers altitude.
The first operational Project Kuiper satellites are expected to launch in early 2024, marking a significant step in Amazon’s efforts to expand its presence in space and offer global Internet services from orbit. The e-commerce giant plans to conduct the first tests with customers at the end of next year in a bid to compete in the emerging space connectivity market.