Amazon Shifts Project Kuiper to Ula’s First Vulcan Launch: All Updates 2022!

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Amazon Shifts Project Kuiper to Ula's First Vulcan Launch

Instead of on ABL Space Systems’ rocket, the first two prototype satellites for Amazon’s Project Kuiper broadband internet network will now be sent into space on the first-ever flight of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur rocket early next year.

ABL and United Launch Alliance have both had schedule slips, which means that ULA’s Vulcan launch schedule now works better with Amazon’s satellite deployment schedule.

The prototypes, called Kuipersat-1 and Kuipersat-2, are meant to test how the different parts of a full constellation of 3,236 satellites will work together. The test results will help Amazon improve the design of the satellites that will be made.

Latest Update by the Vice President

Rajeev Badyal, vice president of technology for Project Kuiper, said in an Amazon update today, “Our prototype satellites will be ready this year, and we’re looking forward to flying with ULA.”

Amazon Shifts Project Kuiper to Ula's First Vulcan Launch

The Kuipersats were supposed to launch this year on one of the first flights of ABL’s RS1 rocket. However, ABL, which is based in California, ran into problems with its test program, which caused the launch date to change. And ULA said this week that it would delay the launch of its next-generation Vulcan Centaur rocket at the request of Astrobotic, which is its main payload customer.

ULA said that Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic asked for more time to finish work on its Peregrine lunar lander, which was chosen to be the first mission for NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program. The launch was supposed to happen in late 2022, but now it will happen in the first three months of 2023. As extra payloads, the Kuipersats will be sent into low Earth orbit.

Vulcan’s launch would be the first time Blue Origin’s BE-4 rocket engines were used. These engines are made by Jeff Bezos’ private space company in Kent, Washington, and were just sent to ULA after being delayed for years.

Changing from ABL to ULA is not that big of a deal. Amazon made a deal with ULA last year for Atlas 5 rockets to launch the first Kuiper satellites for sale, with Vulcan launches to follow.

“We’ve already booked 38 Kuiper launches on Vulcan, and using the same launch vehicle for our prototype mission gives us a chance to practice payload integration, processing, and mission management before the full-scale commercial launches,” Badyal said.

Amazon has secured reservations for dozens of additional launches on Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket and Arianespace’s Ariane 6 rocket, bringing the total number of potential takeoffs to a maximum of ninety-two. Additionally, the business intends to keep two launch reservations with ABL, both of which will be flown at a later point in time.

About the License and Worth of the Project

Project Kuiper has not outlined a precise timeframe for the deployment of satellites or the beginning of service; nonetheless, according to the rules of Amazon’s license from the Federal Communications Commission, half of the 3,236 planned satellites have to be operational by the year 2026.

At the time that the license was granted, Amazon had stated that it planned to invest more than $10 billion in Project Kuiper. There are over one thousand Amazon employees now working on the satellite project, the majority of them are located in the headquarters of Project Kuiper in Redmond, Washington. On its career page, Amazon listed more than 300 positions that are now vacant for the initiative.

The goal of Project Kuiper is to increase access to high-speed internet for the billions of people around the world who now do not have it. However, in the market for satellite data services from low Earth orbit, SpaceX’s Starlink service has a significant lead over Amazon’s offering.

Starlink already has thousands of satellites in orbit and hundreds of thousands of paying customers. OneWeb is a multinational company that is also ahead of Amazon. They currently have more than 400 satellites in orbit and have plans to expand their services over the course of the following year.

Even though it is a relative latecomer, Amazon is betting that synergies with its other business lines, such as Amazon Web Services, will provide it an advantage.

Final Words

The first two Kuipersats for Amazon’s Project Kuiper broadband internet network will now be sent into space on the first-ever flight of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur rocket. The launch was originally supposed to take place on ABL Space Systems’ rocket.

Amazon has secured reservations for dozens of additional launches on Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket and Arianespace’s Ariane 6 rocket. The goal of Project Kuiper is to increase access to high-speed internet for the billions of people around the world who now do not have it.