By Aryaman Bhatia, Science and Tech editor, The Pawprint
As part of Amazon’s Project Kuiper, three new heavy-lift rockets will launch thousands of satellites into low-Earth orbit over the next five years. A constellation of 3,236 satellites will be used in the project to deliver broadband access.
Starlink, a competitor, is believed to have more than 2,300 satellites already in orbit. Arianespace, Blue Origin (established by Amazon owner Jeff Bezos), and United Launch Alliance will build the rockets.
According to Amazon, Project Kuiper intends to deliver high-speed, low-latency broadband to clients such as homes, companies, government agencies, disaster relief operations, mobile carriers, and other organizations “operating in regions where dependable internet access is unavailable.”
Users will connect to the internet via a terminal that connects with the satellites, similar to Elon Musk’s Starlink. Amazon claims that its experience in shipping and manufacturing devices such as the Echo and the Kindle will be beneficial in creating and distributing these.
“Project Kuiper will offer fast, cheap broadband to tens of millions of users in unserved and underserved places worldwide,” said Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon Devices & Services, in a statement announcing the acquisition.
Amazon intends to launch 83 rockets over the next five years, calling it the “biggest commercial acquisition of launch vehicles in history.”
Later this year, the company planned two “prototype” missions, although they will use an ABL Space Systems rocket rather than the three that would launch the majority of the satellites.
Mr Musk aims to send up to 30,000 Starlink satellites into space.
The importance of this form of low-Earth orbit satellite internet has already been proved in Ukraine, where the US Agency for International Development announced that it had helped send 5,000 Starlink terminals to the country’s government in collaboration with SpaceX.
However, as low-Earth orbit gets increasingly crowded, astronomers have complained that the light reflected from these satellites as they pass overhead interferes with their view of the night sky.
“The satellites are absolutely killing our gorgeous night sky,” astronomer Mary McIntyre wrote on Twitter.