First satellites of Starlink’s competitor are launched into orbit

On October 6, an Atlas V rocket was launched from the Cape Canaveral cosmodrome. It has successfully put into orbit a pair of satellites of the Project Kuiper system, which is a competitor to Starlink. 

Launch of the Atlas V rocket with prototypes of the Project Kuiper satellites. Source: ULA

In 2019, Amazon announced its intention to deploy its own super satellite constellation called Project Kuiper. It will be used to create a global satellite Internet system that can compete with SpaceX’s Starlink.

The Amazon space group will consist of 3,226 spacecraft deployed in orbits with heights of 590, 610 and 630 km. The company plans to fully cover the territory between 56° N and 56° S with satellite Internet, thus covering approximately 95% of the world’s population.

A couple of launched Atlas V satellites are prototypes. They will have to test all the basic technologies and functions that will be incorporated into serial devices — from the ability to connect to user terminals and data transmission, to the method of de-orbiting at the end of operation. Initially, the prototypes of Project Kuiper were to be launched by a small RS1 rocket created by ABL Space Systems. But due to problems with the carrier, the cargo was given to Atlas V.

After the tests are completed, Amazon will begin production of serial satellites. It will begin in the first half of next year. To launch the spacecraft, the company signed the “contract of the century”, ordering 83 launches of Ariane 6, Vulcan and New Glenn rockets. The problem is that the development of all three carriers is significantly behind schedule. None of them have made their debut flight yet. At the same time, under the terms of a license issued by the US Federal Communications Commission, Amazon must deploy half of the 3,226 Project Kuiper satellites by July 2026, and the remaining half within the next three years.

According to

Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time