Friday, July 12, 2024

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Project Kuiper, Amazon’s plan to rival Starlink, delayed

The news: 

  • Amazon has confirmed plans to postpone the launch of its first batch of Internet-from-space satellites, Project Kuiper, to the fourth quarter of 2024. 
  • Before this new development, the first production satellites for the Starlink rival were initially scheduled to launch in the first half of 2024. 
  • At a ribbon-cutting event to open Amazon’s satellite production facility in suburban Seattle, Steve Metayer, Production Operations Chief for Project Kuiper, disclosed that the company now plans to kick off the first customer tests of its Project Kuiper network in 2025.

Per a blog post by Amazon, the company claims it’s preparing to send out the first completed production satellites to launch sites “this summer,” though it seems satellites won’t fly until October.

“We’re targeting our first full-scale Kuiper mission for Q4 aboard an Atlas V rocket from ULA (United Launch Alliance),” part of the blog read. 

Consequently, the delay will push back Amazon’s plan to begin beta trials for Project Kuiper, also slated to kick off later in 2024 with commercial customers. 

Now, the company notes that they expect to begin offering demonstrations to enterprise customers in early 2025. Commercial service is expected to start in a limited fashion once Amazon has hundreds of satellites aloft. 


“We will continue to increase our rates of satellite production and deployment heading into 2025, and we remain on track to begin offering service to customers next year,” the company added.

Amazon didn’t give any reason for the delay, but reports speculate it may have something to do with its launch partners. 

In 2022, the Jeff Bezos-owned company announced that it would use next-generation rockets supplied by United Launch Alliance, Arianespace, and Blue Origin to transport most of Kuiper’s 3,236-satellite constellation to space. 

Since then, all three companies have had their peculiar struggles with getting their next-generation rockets off the ground.

Amazon aims to provide broadband Internet from its initial satellite constellation comprising more than 3,000 satellites built and shipped from the new facility, providing competition for SpaceX’s Starlink network

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The company will retire the two prototypes it launched in October as it works to enhance manufacturing at a factory in Kirkland, Washington, which will produce as many as five satellites daily.In November 2023, Amazon successfully tested the satellite Internet system, releasing a video demonstrating how the technology in Earth’s orbit beams Internet access to Amazon engineers on the ground.

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