Advanced Television

Amazon’s Kuiper gets FCC approval

February 9, 2023

By Chris Forrester

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has formally approved Amazon’s Project Kuiper broadband-by-satellite low Earth orbiting system.

The FCC said it os happy with Amazon’s mitigation plan in the event of potential collisions while in orbit as well as a mechanism to de-orbit failed or dead satellites.

The FCC had previously approved the scheme (in 2020) subject to an updated mitigation scheme. The FCC added that the mitigation plan allows “Kuiper to begin deployment of its constellation in order to bring high-speed broadband connectivity to customers around the world.”

Kuiper plans three orbital shells for its system, at 590 kms, 610 kms and 630 kms in height and will comprise an overall total of 3,236 craft.

Kuiper says that its de-orbiting mitigation would see satellites brought to about 350 kms in altitude where the Earth’s slightly thicker atmosphere would naturally cause a craft to burn up in about a year.

“Kuiper further states that [Kuiper] has allocated sufficient propellant to conduct collision avoidance manoeuvres until the apogee is decreased below 400 kilometers,” the FCC stated, but “given the ongoing and persistent operations of inhabitable space stations generally, such as [the Chinese] Tiangong space station, we condition the authorization to require that such space stations be taken into account.”

Amazon has pre-booked a total of 92 rocket launches with the United Launch Alliance, Arianespace and its own Blue Origin rockets to get the system into orbit.

The FCC has also given permission for the launch of two test satellites and these will launch shortly.

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