Amazon plans constellation of 3,000 sats for 'inclusive' internet

Judy Cobb
April 9, 2019

Recent developments in the commercial space launch industry mean that it's cheaper than ever to launch large numbers of micro-satellites, so expect to see other similar projects being announced in the coming years. He revealed the existence of Project Kuiper late last week and said this multi-billion dollar endeavor will ultimately deploy a satellite constellation with 3,236 satellites in low-Earth orbit (LEO).

Amazon's satellite internet plan is looking increasingly similar to Elon Musk's plan at SpaceX of launching thousands of spacecraft that are compact in size, as former SpaceX vice president of satellites Rajeev Badyal and a couple members of his team are now leading Amazon's Project Kuiper.

Project Kuiper represents Bezos' plan to launch 3,236 small satellites into space to provide high-speed internet around the globe. The project will be run by an Amazon subsidiary named Kuiper Systems LLC, which Badyal now heads.

Those satellites would provide data coverage ranging in latitude from 56 degrees north to 56 degrees south.

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Even though Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos has his own spaceflight company called "Blue Origin", the company is considering all other options as well.

Likewise, the London headquartered company, OneWeb, has become a major contender in the race to provide global broadband access, launching its first six successful satellites in February and raising a formidable $1.25 billion to support future launches.

Under Badyal's watch, Starlink launched its first two test satellites in 2018. By the way, satellites have been providing internet access for some time, but those in low-Earth orbit should be superior in terms of low latency and reduced budgets for deployment. After the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved an additional 7,518 satellites late previous year, SpaceX expanded the quota to 11,943 satellites.

The SpaceX Starlink satellite constellation will consist of 11,943 satellites in LEO.

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