Amazon has launched its first pair of prototype satellites into space for its planned Kuiper internet network, as the e-commerce company positions itself to beam internet service globally and compete with SpaceX’s Starlink.
The prototype satellites were launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida last Friday, 6th October. The company plans to deploy over 3,000 more Kuiper internet network satellites into orbit over the next few years. Rival, SpaceX plans to launch 5,000 satellites.
The launch live stream was hosted by the United Launch Alliance, but did not show the deployment of the satellites. Amazon later said the two satellites had deployed successfully, and that its mission operations centre had made contact with them.
Amazon has vowed to invest $10 billion into its Kuiper project, which was announced in 2019, the year SpaceX began deploying its first operational Starlink spacecraft. The market for broadband internet service from low-Earth orbiting satellites is expected to be worth tens of billions of dollars in the next decade.
Amazon and founder, Bezos, are facing a shareholder lawsuit over that launch deal that accuses the company of failing to do proper due diligence and failing to consider potentially cheaper rockets from its rival SpaceX. SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 rocket has been central to Starlink’s swift deployment.