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Kuiper 1 and 2 ready for launch

September 12, 2023

Amazon’s broadband-by-satellite Project Kuiper system is getting closer. Two prototype satellites will launch in the next few weeks.

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) rocket operator has confirmed that its next launch will carry Amazon’s KuiperSat-1 & 2 prototypes for their Project Kuiper mega-constellation. According to an insider source, reportedly the mission, known as the Project Kuiper Protoflight, currently has a date reserved on the launch range “no later than October 7th”.

The ULA will use an Atlas ‘Vulcan Centaur’ rocket for the launch. ULA has an order from Amazon for 47 launches.

The launch is already late, and was delayed because of a rocket failure and the subsequent correction of some anomalies. It was initially planned for May 2023.

The Kuiper system will comprise 3,236 satellites operating in low Earth orbit. Amazon has also begun construction on a large satellite processing facility at the Kennedy Space Center which will be used to prepare and integrate the Kuiper satellites with the rockets that will launch them into orbit.

Vodafone has also just signed an agreement with Kuiper to expand Vodafone’s 4G and 5G coberage over Europe and Africa. Vodafone says it will bring high-speed broadband to unserved and underserved communities without the cost of traditional fibre build-out. When Kuiper is operational, the companies plan to install Project Kuiper customer terminals alongside cellular towers, using Project’s Kuiper’s satellite links to connect from the towers back to the companies’ core networks. This process is known as cellular backhaul via satellite.

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