After years of development, Amazon is showing off the antennas it plans to use for its Project Kuiper satellite broadband network — and says it plans to begin offering beta service for large customers next year.
The largest antenna, for enterprise customers, is about the size of a café table. The antenna designed for home use is as big as an LP record’s album sleeve and should cost around $400 to make. The smallest antenna, still under development, is just a little bigger than an ebook reader.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t contrast it to a Kindle here,” said Dave Limp, Amazon’s senior vice president of devices and services, who helpfully made the comparison today during the big reveal at the Satellite 2023 conference in Washington, D.C.
Amazon hasn’t yet launched any of the 3,236 satellites for the constellation it plans to operate in low Earth orbit — and it’s far behind SpaceX, which says it already has more than a million customers for its Starlink broadband service. But Limp insisted that Amazon was in position to make rapid progress over the next year.
He noted that the first two prototype Kuiper satellites have just been shipped to Florida, in preparation for launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur rocket this spring. And he said multiple satellites should be ready for liftoff by next year. The Kuiper operation is headquartered in Redmond, Wash. — not far from SpaceX’s satellite factory — and Amazon plans to start mass-producing satellites at a factory in Kirkland, Wash., by the end of the year.
Limp said Amazon was on track to launch half of the satellites for the Kuiper constellation by mid-2026, using up to 77 medium- to heavy-lift rockets it’s reserved at ULA as well as at Arianespace and Blue Origin. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns Blue Origin as a separate, privately held space venture.) “For sure we will be beta-testing with large customers in ’24,” Limp said.