Amazon’s Project Kuiper hopes to launch first two prototype satellites in late 2022

The company wants to launch them on a new rocket from ABL Space Systems
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Amazon’s ambitious satellite-internet project, Project Kuiper, aims to launch its first two prototype satellites in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to an experimental launch license the company filed with the Federal Communications Commission today. Called KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2, the two prototypes are supposed to launch on an experimental new rocket called the RS1, currently being developed by startup ABL Space Systems based in El Segundo, California.

Kuiper’s goal is to launch a giant constellation of up to 3,236 satellites into low Earth orbit over the next decade in order to provide low-latency broadband internet coverage to the surface below. The plan is to serve rural communities and other areas where it’s difficult to provide infrastructure for traditional internet services. It’s a similar concept to that of Starlink, SpaceX’s broadband internet satellite constellation, which proposes sending nearly 12,000 into low orbit around Earth. But unlike Kuiper, Spacex has actually launched more than 1,700 of its satellites and even created a beta program for hundreds of users. Kuiper has yet to launch any satellites.


Now, the Amazon subsidiary seems almost ready to get started. Last week, the company showed off testing of the thrusters the satellites will use to maneuver through space. And Kuiper claims that these first prototypes will allow the company to test out the same “communication and networking technology” that will be included in the finalized satellites. The two prototypes will operate at 366 miles, or 590 kilometers, above Earth. KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2 will house plenty of the same technology needed for the final constellation, including antennas, modems, and power and propulsion.