Amazon sent its first two internet satellites into orbit on Friday. It’s a key step toward building out a constellation of more than 3,000 satellites that it hopes will provide online connectivity to millions in rural areas without internet access.
Amazon said the prototype satellites were successfully deployed in orbit and the company had made contact with them, reports The Washington Post. Over the coming days and weeks, Amazon hopes to use the satellites to “add real-world data from space to years of data collected from lab and field testing” as it works to launch the rest of its Kuiper constellation, the company said.
“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 in-orbit testing,” Amazon Kuiper VP Technology Rajeev Badyal said in a blog.
Amazon has said it intends to invest more than $10 billion in the network. The company hopes to launch its first production satellites during the first half of next year and begin preliminary testing with commercial customers by the end of 2024. Under its FCC license, Amazon must launch half of the 3,236 satellites it foresees in the constellation by July 2026.
The system works by beaming internet signals from the satellites to small ground terminals, notes The Washington Post.
Amazon executives see the Kuiper network as an eventual competitor to SpaceX’s Starlink service. But it will take several years to fully build out Amazon’s system and give SpaceX real competition.
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief