United Launch Alliance has recently confirmed that the satellite launch carried out by Amazon was a notable achievement. Utilizing their reliable Atlas V rocket, the aerospace manufacturer successfully deployed the first two Project Kuiper satellites into low Earth orbit on Friday. The mission, called Protoflight, successfully launched from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 2:06 PM ET.
For some time now, Amazon has been dedicated to the development of Project Kuiper, its own satellite internet initiative similar to Starlink. Initially, the company had set a goal to launch prototypes by the end of last year.
Protoflight is seen as a valuable learning opportunity for the company. It enables them to gather real-world data from space, which can then be combined with findings from lab and field testing. This holistic approach enhances their overall understanding and knowledge in a more comprehensive manner.Amazon is looking to gather valuable information about the performance of their network, both on the ground and in space. As part of this effort, they are conducting a test that involves satellite processing, launch, and mission operations. It’s important to note that once the mission is complete, Amazon will take proactive measures to bring the satellites back down to Earth and ensure they safely burn up in the atmosphere.
“We’ve done extensive testing here in our lab and have a high degree of confidence in our satellite design, but there’s no substitute for on-orbit testing,” Rajeev Badyal, Project Kuiper’s vice president of technology, said. “This is Amazon’s first time putting satellites into space, and we’re going to learn an incredible amount regardless of how the mission unfolds.”
Amazon’s Project Kuiper has a clear mission – to bring fast and affordable broadband access to communities worldwide that currently lack or have limited connectivity options. By doing so, it aims to bridge the digital divide for unserved and underserved areas, ensuring they can enjoy the benefits of internet access. After obtaining FCC approval, the company has announced its plan to launch over 3,200 satellites in the next six years. The prototypes, called KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2, mark the initial versions of this ambitious deployment.The company has plans to launch production satellites in the first half of 2024. They aim to begin beta tests with selected customers by the end of the following year.
If you were unable to catch the initial launch, don’t worry! You can still watch a replay of the livestream by clicking on the video below. The rocket takes off at approximately 26 minutes and 6 seconds into the recording.