Starlink’s satellites won’t be the only ones orbiting Earth. Competitors to Elon Musk’s Internet connection service have every intention of offering their own, including Amazon.
Dubbed “Project Kuiper,” Amazon’s constellation of satellites is expected to take its first steps in the fourth quarter of next year. The company has applied for a license for an experimental launch with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Two prototypes, Kuipersat-1 and Kuipersat-2, will be launched by an RS1 rocket developed by start-up ABL Space Systems from El Segundo, California.
more than 3,000 satellites around the earth
These two prototypes fade in the face of the ambition of the Kuiper project, which aims to achieve this in ten years with 3,236 satellites crossing low Earth orbit. The proposal is very similar to that of Starlink: to offer high-speed, low-latency Internet access in rural areas that are difficult for traditional access providers’ infrastructure to access.
Starlink is already well ahead of Kuiper with a network of 1,700 satellites in space (in the long term, it will be 12,000 satellites that SpaceX intends to send into auxiliary orbit!) and the launch of a beta version of its Internet connection service.
So Amazon has some catching up to do, but the e-commerce juggernaut has its pockets full, which allows it to refine its technology. The two prototypes, which will travel 590 kilometers from the floor of the cow, will test Kuiper’s network and communications capabilities. They will communicate with four terminals and one station in Texas for a duration of ten minutes.
The Kuiper teams have already done the ground test, achieving download speeds of 400 Mbps. Starlink, for its part, promises speeds of 100 to 200 Mbps. At the same time, Amazon attempts to allay fear in the space community, declaring that the prototypes will not remain in space, but will be destroyed upon entering the atmosphere after completing their mission. A way to “clean up” Earth’s orbit.
Kuiper also hints at working with astronomers to reduce the visibility of their satellites, which could negatively affect space observations.
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