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Amazon books Kuiper satellite launches, but no delivery date

Amazon Project Kuiper Atlas V.jpg

Amazon has taken the next step in its plan to build its Project Kuiper satellite broadband network, but still hasn’t given a start date.

The company’s big move is to award a contract to launch 3,236 satellites that will enable Amazon to compete with SpaceX’s Starlink, OneWeb, Telesat and other low Earth orbit (LEO) broadband services.

United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, will use nine Atlas V rockets (pictured) for the contract.

“Project Kuiper will help bridge the digital divide across the United States and around the world, and we could not be more pleased to be working with Amazon to support the initiative,” said Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO.

“ULA is focused on serving our customer’s missions and providing reliable, innovative launch solutions. We look forward to launching these important missions.”

But neither ULA nor Amazon have said when “these important missions” will take place.

Amazon’s budget for Project Kuiper — which is named after Dutch planetary scientist Gerard Kuiper (1905-1973) — is more than US$10 billion. The aim is to “serve individual households, as well as schools, hospitals, businesses, government agencies, and other organizations operating in places without reliable broadband”, said ULA.

Kuiper’s satellites will work in three orbital rings, at 590km, 610km and 630km above the surface, giving a latency of about 4ms.