Amazon targets the launch of the first Kuiper satellites in 2024

Amazon plans to launch its first internet satellites into space in the first half of 2024 and offer initial commercial trials soon after as it prepares to compete with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and others to provide global broadband internet.

Amazon’s satellite internet unit, Project Kuiper, will begin mass-producing the satellites later this year, the company said.

Those will be the first of more than 3,000 satellites the tech giant plans to launch into low-Earth orbit in the coming years.

“We will definitely beta testing with commercial customers in 2024,” Dave Limp, Amazon’s senior vice president of devices, said at a conference in Washington.

The 2024 deployment target would keep Amazon on track to meet a regulatory mandate to launch half of its entire Kuiper network of 3,236 satellites by 2026.

Limp, who monitors the power of Amazon’s consumer devices, said the company plans to make “three to five” satellites per day to meet that goal.

With plans to inject more than US$10 billion (A$15 billion) into Kuiper’s network, Amazon is building on its consumer electronics playbook to also make the millions of terminals needed to connect customers.

The company sees its experience in producing millions of devices as key to competing with SpaceX’s Starlink network, which already has about 4,000 satellites in space.

SpaceX’s Starlink consumer terminals, priced at $599 each, are being used by “more than a million customers to date,” said Jonathan Hofeller, SpaceX’s head of enterprise sales for Starlink.

Amazon’s “standard customer terminal,” 11-inch square antennas for the Kuiper network, will cost the company less than $400 each to produce and provide 400Mbps Internet speeds for customers, the company said.

A smaller, square-shaped mobile antenna, measuring 18 cm wide and weighing one pound (453 grams), will be Amazon’s “most affordable” handset for the network, although the company did not disclose pricing.



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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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