Kuiper Systems LLC
TypeSubsidiary
HeadquartersRedmond, Washington, U.S.
Key people
Rajeev Badyal (president)

Kuiper Systems LLC is a subsidiary of Amazon that was set up in 2019 to deploy a large broadband satellite internet constellation to provide broadband internet connectivity.[1][2] The deployment is also referred to by its project name "Project Kuiper".[1]

Amazon has signed launch contracts with three launch service providers for a total of 91 launches over the next decade in order to build out the entire constellation, now planned to contain 3276 satellites.[3] The overall contract value for these launches is in excess of US$10 billion. As of April 2022, no date has been set for when initial launches of the operational constellation will begin.[3]

Two initial prototype satellites “KuiperSat-1” and “KuiperSat-2” are planned to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2022, and to launch the satellites with ABL Space Systems on their RS1 rocket.[3][4]

History

Amazon announced in April 2019 that they would fund and deploy a large broadband satellite internet constellation called Project Kuiper.[1][2] It is expected to take up to a decade to fully deploy all 3,236 satellites planned for the full constellation in order to provide internet to "tens of millions of people who lack basic access to broadband internet".[1] Amazon has not announced if they intend to sell broadband service directly to consumers, but they will "offer broadband service through partnerships with other companies".[5]

In December 2019, information became public that Amazon was asking the FCC to waive requirements (eg. to have applied by 2016) that SpaceX and OneWeb had to follow in order to get their large satellite internet constellations licensed.[6] As of December 2019, the FCC had not yet ruled on the request. SpaceX and others have asked the FCC to reject the waiver request.[6]

On 30 July 2020, Amazon announced that it would be investing more than US$10 billion in Project Kuiper,[7] post receiving an authorization from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a Project Kuiper constellation of 3,236 satellites, to provide broadband internet access across the globe. A condition included in the FCC's authorization was a non-interference clause that required the satellites to not interfere with previously authorized satellite ventures.[8]

In December 2020, Amazon unveiled a high-level overview of the low-cost flat-panel antenna that it plans to use for the Project Kuiper satellite constellation. It is a Ka-band phased-array antenna that is much smaller than traditional designs for antennas that operate at 17–30 GHz. The antenna will be ~30 cm (12 in) in width and is expected to support up to 400 megabits per second of data bandwidth at over 5x less cost than traditional state-of-the-art flat-panel antennas.[9] Amazon also announced that they intend to be "launch agnostic" and would not plan to exclusively use launch capacity from Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin company, but rather were open to launch capability offers from all providers.[9]

On 19 April 2021, Amazon announced that it had contracted with ULA for nine launches of Kuiper satellites on Atlas V launch vehicles from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, and noted that it will "continue to explore all options" for launching the remainder of the satellites.[10][11]

On 5 April 2022, Amazon announced a massive set of launch contracts with three launch providers for a total of 83 launches over the next decade.[12] The agreements foresee the launch of a full constellation at buildout of 3236 satellites, and include 18 launches of the European Ariane 6, 12 launches of Blue Origin's New Glenn (with options on 15 additional flights), and 38 launches on the Vulcan launch vehicle from United Launch Alliance. All three of these medium- or heavy-lift launch vehicles have yet to make their initial flight, although some are scheduled for as early as 2022.[3]

Operations

The satellites are projected to use an orbit with a height between 590 and 630 km (370 and 390 mi).[13] Kuiper is planned to work in concert with Amazon's previously announced large network of 12 satellite ground station facilities (the "AWS Ground Station unit") announced in November 2018.[14] Amazon filed communications license documents with the U.S. regulatory authorities the FCC in July 2019, which included information that the wholly owned Amazon subsidiary that intended to deploy the satellite constellation was Kuiper Systems LLC, based in Seattle, Washington.[15] As of April 2021, the Kuiper System is planned to consist of 3,236 satellites operating in 98 orbital planes in three orbital shells, one each at 590 km (370 mi), 610 km (380 mi), and 630 km (390 mi) orbital altitude.[16]

The president of Kuiper Systems is Rajeev Badyal, a former vice president of SpaceX's Starlink satellite internet constellation who was fired in 2018.[5][17] In December 2019, Amazon announced that the team were expected to move headquarters to a larger R&D facility in Redmond, Washington, in 2020. However, an update continues to remain pending on the final move.[18][19][20]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d Sheetz, Michael (4 April 2019). "Amazon wants to launch thousands of satellites so it can offer broadband internet from space". CNBC. Archived from the original on 4 April 2019. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  2. ^ a b Henry, Caleb (4 April 2019). "Amazon planning 3,236-satellite constellation for internet connectivity". SpaceNews. Archived from the original on 5 April 2022. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Berger, Eric (5 April 2022). "Jeff Bezos and Amazon just hired everybody but SpaceX for Project Kuiper". Ars Technica. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  4. ^ Sheetz, Michael (1 November 2022). "Amazon plans to launch its first internet satellites in late 2022". CNBC. CNBC. Retrieved 21 June 2022.
  5. ^ a b Brodkin, Jon (8 July 2019). "Amazon plans nationwide broadband — with both home and mobile service". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on 8 July 2019. Retrieved 9 July 2019. Kuiper is wholly owned by Amazon, and its president is Rajeev Badyal, a former SpaceX vice president who was reportedly fired because SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was unsatisfied with his company's satellite-broadband progress.
  6. ^ a b "SpaceX Is Lobbying Against Amazon's Internet-Beaming Satellites". Vice. Archived from the original on 26 July 2020. Retrieved 23 December 2019. Amazon is trying to get a waiver to FCC rules that companies like SpaceX and OneWeb had to follow.
  7. ^ Sheetz, Michael (30 July 2020). "Amazon will invest over US$10 billion in its satellite internet network after receiving FCC authorization". CNBC. Archived from the original on 1 August 2020. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  8. ^ "Amazon vows to invest US$10B in Kuiper satellites after getting FCC's go-ahead". GeekWire. 30 July 2020. Archived from the original on 31 July 2020. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  9. ^ a b Foust, Jeff (15 December 2020). "Amazon unveils flat-panel customer terminal for Kuiper constellation". SpaceNews. Archived from the original on 5 April 2022. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  10. ^ "Amazon secures United Launch Alliance Atlas V rockets for Project Kuiper". About Amazon. 19 April 2021. Archived from the original on 19 April 2021. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  11. ^ "Amazon contracts nine Atlas 5 missions for Kuiper broadband satellites". SpaceNews. 19 April 2021. Archived from the original on 9 January 2022. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  12. ^ Marks, Paul (6 April 2022). "What does Amazon's attempt to dominate space mean for everyone else?". New Scientist. Retrieved 8 April 2022.
  13. ^ "Chasing SpaceX, Amazon Seeks to Launch 3,236 Internet Satellites". 5 July 2019. Archived from the original on 9 August 2020. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  14. ^ Sheetz, Michael (27 November 2018). "Amazon cloud business reaches into space with satellite connection service". CNBC. Archived from the original on 7 April 2019. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  15. ^ "APPLICATION FOR AUTHORITY TO LAUNCH AND OPERATE A NON-GEOSTATIONARY SATELLITE ORBIT SYSTEM IN KA-BAND FREQUENCIES". licensing.fcc.gov. Federal Communications Commission. 4 July 2019. Archived from the original on 6 July 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2019. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  16. ^ Amazon lays out constellation service goals, deployment and deorbit plans to FCC Archived 25 April 2020 at perma-archives.org (Error: unknown archive URL) Caleb Henry, SpaceNews, July 8, 2019, accessed September 9, 2019
  17. ^ "Elon Musk Fires Multiple Starlink Executives". Reuters. Archived from the original on 5 April 2022. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  18. ^ Henry, Caleb (18 December 2019). "Amazon moving Project Kuiper team to new R&D headquarters". SpaceNews. Archived from the original on 5 April 2022. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  19. ^ "Amazon is moving Project Kuiper satellite operation to huge Redmond facility". GeekWire. 19 December 2019. Archived from the original on 14 March 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  20. ^ "Space Place". 425 Business. 12 February 2020. Archived from the original on 21 September 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2020.