Advanced Television

Kuiper test satellites working well

November 10, 2023

By Chris Forrester

The two prototype Amazon Kuiper broadband satellites are working as planned in orbit.

Amazon states that the demo-spacecraft have demonstrated controlled manoeuvring in orbit using their purpose-built electric propulsion systems. The propulsion system is key to positioning and maintaining the satellites in orbit.

“A recent series of test firings provided critical on-orbit data to further validate our satellite design, with each test returning nominal results consistent with our design requirements,” said Amazon in its status report.

Amazon’s Project Kuiper is licensed to orbit 3,236 satellites for its broadband-by-satellite service which will rival Elon Musk’s Starlink system. However, at least half of the proposed fleet must be in orbit by mid-2026.

The two demo craft were launched on October 6th and intended to test the on-board hardware as well as links between the satellites and ground stations on Earth.

The first fully operational satellites are scheduled for launch early in 2024, and that a beta service to selected enterprise customers could begin by the end of next year.

“Space safety and sustainability have been fundamental to Project Kuiper since day 1, and our propulsion system is one of the first systems we built and tested in the lab,” said Rajeev Badyal, Project Kuiper’s vice president of technology. “Our custom thrusters are a prime example of Kuiper innovation, and using them to maneuver safely in space was a critical piece of our Protoflight mission. The positive results give us even more confidence in our plans to deploy and operate our satellite constellation.”

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