A rendering of ABL House’s RS1 rocket launching Mission Kuiper satellites for Amazon.
Amazon goals to launch its first Mission Kuiper web satellites within the fourth quarter of 2022, the corporate introduced Monday.
The expertise large filed a request with the Federal Communications Fee to launch and function its first two prototype satellites, known as KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2. Amazon mentioned the satellites will launch with ABL House on its RS1 rocket.
“We’ll quickly be able to see how [the satellites] carry out in area,” Amazon vice chairman of expertise Rajeev Badyal mentioned in a press release. “There isn’t a substitute for on-orbit testing, and we anticipate to be taught quite a bit given the complexity and danger of working in such a difficult atmosphere.”
Mission Kuiper is Amazon’s plan to construct a community of three,236 satellites in low Earth orbit to supply high-speed web to anyplace on this planet. The FCC final yr approved Amazon’s system, which the corporate says it plans to “make investments greater than $10 billion” in Kuiper. Early service from Kuiper is ready to start as soon as Amazon has 578 satellites in orbit.
Amazon final week introduced a partnership with Verizon, to collaborate with the telecom large within the more and more aggressive area of high-speed satellite tv for pc web.
Kuiper is poised to go toe-to-toe with SpaceX’s Starlink community, which is the furthest alongside within the newest technology of broadband satellite tv for pc methods. A wide range of different networks are in varied phases of growth, together with these of British-owned OneWeb, BlackRock-backed Astranis, satellite-to-smartphone specialist AST SpaceMobile, Lockheed Martin’s partnership with start-up Omnispace and Canadian satellite tv for pc operator Telesat’s Lightspeed.
The Mission Kuiper staff has grown steadily at Amazon, which now has greater than 750 individuals and “a whole lot extra” anticipated to be employed within the subsequent yr. Amazon constructed a 219,000 square-foot facility in Redmond, Washington to check and manufacture the satellites, and plans so as to add one other 20,000 square-foot facility.
The prototype satellites
Launching and testing KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2 a yr from now represents one of many subsequent main milestones within the growth of Amazon’s system.
The pair of satellites are meant to check Amazon’s communications and networking infrastructure, connecting with the corporate’s floor stations based mostly in Texas, South America and Asia-Pacific.
“KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2 will embody a lot of expertise and sub-systems that energy the manufacturing model of our satellite tv for pc design – phased array and parabolic antennas, energy and propulsion methods, custom-designed modems and extra,” Amazon mentioned in a weblog put up.
Amazon additionally plans to check early buyer satellite tv for pc dishes on the location in McCulloch, Texas. The corporate described the antenna as a “low-cost buyer terminal” that may present “dependable service at a extra reasonably priced worth than legacy antennas,” having carried out early testing of prototype gear late final yr.
In line with Amazon’s submitting, the satellites are anticipated to connect with the Texas antennas for so long as 4 minutes, as much as 5 occasions per day.
A Mission Kuiper engineer units up a a prototype antenna for a check.
The influence of networks with a whole lot or hundreds of satellites on the evening sky has been a subject of concern for methods like Kuiper. Much like the “solar visors” that SpaceX added to Starlink satellites to scale back brightness, Amazon mentioned one of many two prototype Kuiper satellites “will embody a sunshade to assist us perceive whether or not it’s an efficient technique to scale back reflectivity and thereby mitigate its influence on ground-based optical telescopes.”
“We are going to gather knowledge to match reflectivity between the 2 spacecraft, and share any learnings with the astronomy group following the mission,” Amazon mentioned.
Moreover, to fight the chance of including area particles in orbit, Amazon emphasised its Kuiper prototypes are designed to thoroughly deplete within the ambiance on the finish of their lifespan.
One other cope with a rocket builder
An RS1 rocket booster is shipped out of the corporate’s headquarters in El Segundo, California.
Amazon plans to ship up the satellites on separate ABL launches, which is able to raise off from Cape Canaveral House Power Station in Florida. The businesses have been working collectively “for a number of months,” Amazon mentioned, with two design evaluations full.
ABL continues to work towards the inaugural launch of its RS1 rocket from Alaska by the top of this yr. The corporate has beforehand introduced plans to launch from Vandenberg House Power Base in California and Pacific Spaceport Complicated in Alaska, making Cape Canaveral its third deliberate launch website so far. ABL has not but introduced which launch advanced it plans to make the most of in Florida.
The Amazon missions add to ABL’s contract backlog, which the rocket builder says options 14 prospects up to now.
“Amazon will play a central function within the subsequent technology of area infrastructure, and we’re proud to have been chosen as a Kuiper launch accomplice, notably for these vital early flights,” ABL CEO Harry O’Hanley mentioned in a press release.
The cope with ABL is the second Amazon has signed with a launch supplier, having earlier this yr contracted United Launch Alliance for 9 Kuiper launches.