The tech giant announced that it will launch the satellites from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on ABL Space Systems’ RS1 rocket, as part of a multi-launch deal recently announced by the two companies. Amazon’s prototype satellites will operate at an altitude of 590 km.
Competitor SpaceX launched two test satellites for Starlink in February 2018 and the first batch of 60 production satellites in May 2019. Starlink’s public beta began in October 2020 and has only recently come out of beta.
If Amazon follows a similar timetable, which is highly unlikely at present, its first production satellites would launch in late 2023 or early 2024, with the actual service available in 2025. The tech giant has already been granted Federal Communications Commission approval to launch 3,236 low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellites while SpaceX has approval for nearly 12,000.
Amazon is reportedly developing and testing the Kuiper System in an all-new 219,000-square-foot plant in Redmond, Washington, and is adding a 20,000-square-foot facility for larger capacity. In addition, the company now employs more than 750 people at Kuiper and will add hundreds more to the team by 2022.