- Amazon wants to launch 3,236 Internet-beam satellites in an effort called Project Kuiper, which would compete directly with Starlink’s growing fleet of spacecraft.
- Despite fierce competition, Amazon managed to overcome the opposition of its competitors and obtain the approval of the US Federal Communications Commission to deploy Kuiper into space.
- SpaceX’s Starlink project appears to be several years ahead of the Amazon Kuiper, which has already launched hundreds of satellites and launched a consumer beta test program.
- However, Amazon has pledged to invest “more than $ 10 billion”; in the implementation of Kuiper and the Earth’s blanket with access to the Internet.
- You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.
Amazon, founded by Jeff Bezos in 1995, has just declared a big victory by obtaining regulatory approval to create a Kuiper, a planned fleet or a constellation of 3,236 satellites using the Internet.
If that happened, Kuiper would compete with Starlink, a similar but potentially much larger fleet of 12,000 to 42,000 satellites – many times as many times as humanity in the spaceship had ever begun – created SpaceX, an airline founded by Elon Musk.
On Wednesday, five FCC commissioners voted unanimously to allow Amazon to launch its Kuiper fleet into space and communicate with ground antennas, providing the project with the documentation needed to get off the ground.
“We concluded that granting Kuiper’s application would increase the public interest by authorizing a system designed to increase the availability of high-speed broadband services to consumers, government and businesses,” the FCC wrote in a resolution on July 30.
In a subsequent announcement by Amazon on Thursday, the company pledged to invest “more than $ 10 billion” in its efforts to provide “reliable and affordable broadband to undeserved and insecure communities around the world.”
“A project of this scale requires considerable effort and resources, and given the nature of the project [low-Earth orbit] constellation, this is not the kind of initiative that can start small. You have to commit, “said Amazon.
By the way, this amount is exactly what SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell estimated in May 2018 as cash that may take to complete Starlink.
Hot competition to dominate the space Internet
In his descriptions of Starlink reporter for journalists in May 2019, Elon Musk said SpaceX was trying to raise only 1-3% of the approximately $ 1 trillion a year in the global telecommunications business. He also said the project could bring the SpaceX network $ 30 to $ 50 billion a year, which is about 10 times what it takes to launch rockets. (This has forced some analysts to value the company up $ 100 billion.)
Equal market access and capture is probably true for Amazon, which has sparked heated regulatory battles with SpaceX and other companies, at one point even forcing Muska to call Bezos a copy. However, with Amazon’s growing and lucrative digital entertainment divisions, it is bringing affordable high-speed internet to both populated and remote areas to expand its customer base and bottom line.
Like SpaceX, Amazon had to pass the FCC first.
The federal regulator is responsible for distributing wireless spectrum and allocating permits to use certain frequencies for specific purposes – for Kuiper, Starlink, OneWeb and other scheduled providers, transferring web data to and from space to the Americas (and other parts of the world) in high-speed broadband. low delay connection. Amazon applied for FCC approval in 2019, putting the company in strong competition with similar providers.
Now, with FCC approval, Amazon can launch its planned satellites orbiting the planet at altitudes from about 367 miles (590 kilometers) to 391 miles (630 kilometers) in an area called Earth’s orbit (LEO) or even very low orbit. Earth (VLEO). Such distances are more than 50 times closer than traditional geostationary Internet satellites, allowing them to transmit data to fiber-like spaces.
The FCC regulations state that Amazon plans to launch Kuiper in five phases and that its hitherto non-existent Internet service should come online via 578 satellites.
It is not yet clear how big these satellites will be, what they will look like and which rocket or rockets will put them into orbit. But in 2000, Bezos founded an airline called Blue Origin, which seeks, as SpaceX has successfully done, to develop reusable rockets. The upcoming planned Blue Origin heavy-lift rocket is called New Glenn and may have the potential to deploy dozens or hundreds of satellites at once.
SpaceX seems to be potential years before Amazon, having deployed more than 500 Starlink satellites, built user terminal and ground stations, and even launched a private beta that could lead to the first public service later this year.
The FCC order did not provide everything Amazon wanted, but the company nevertheless stressed its importance by announcing its large-scale planned investment in the scheme.
“Recently, we’ve heard so many stories about people who aren’t able to do their work or finish school because they don’t have a reliable Internet at home,” said Dave Limp, Amazon’s senior vice president, who previously developed his Kindle product and now oversees Kuiper. “There are still too many places where broadband is unreliable or non-existent. Kuiper will change that. Our $ 10 billion investment will create jobs and infrastructure in the United States to help us bridge that gap. ”
In addition to its goals of providing services to home consumers, schools, businesses, emergency services, healthcare facilities, Amazon also plans to “provide backhaul solutions for wireless operators extending LTE and 5G services to new regions” to make the Internet a harder way to reach other areas.
Late last year, Amazon unveiled plans to open a giant factory to develop, test and build Kuiper satellites in Redmond, Washington.
The clock is ticking to start Amazon. The FCC requires 50% of its satellites to be operational by July 30, 2026, and the rest of its fleet should be operational before July 30, 2029, otherwise the company could lose its license to operate the network.
The government’s decision only dealt obliquely with the threat and growing impact of low-flying satellite fleets on astronomy, especially radio astronomers. In its decision, the FCC noted that avoiding such disruption is not a “condition” for its approval, but that Amazon “should be aware of these facts” and work with the National Science Foundation to alleviate the problems.