Amazon plans to launch the first two prototype satellites for its Project Kuiper satellite broadband constellation by late 2022, using rockets currently being developed by ABL Space Systems.
The timeline for testing what’s slated to become a 3,236-satellite network in low Earth orbit was laid out today in an experimental license application filed with the Federal Communications Commission. It’s the first time that Amazon has specified launch dates in its multibillion-dollar effort to compete with SpaceX’s Starlink network, which is already in limited operation.
Amazon said the two prototype satellites — KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2 — would serve as a testbed for technologies that it plans to use to offer broadband internet service to tens of millions of people around the globe. The prototypes will also help the company validate procedures on the ground for operating and maintaining the full constellation.
The satellites are being developed at Amazon’s Project Kuiper headquarters in Redmond, Wash. — not far from where SpaceX’s Starlink satellites are built.