Amazon relaunches its satellite race against Elon Musk

Amazon will invest $120 million to build a satellite assembly plant to be located at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the group announced on Friday July 21.

This new equipment should allow the online sales giant to compete with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and its constellation of Starlink satellites. Amazon plans to have its own constellation of more than 3,200 satellites in low orbit, called “Kuiper project”.

This constellation will “provide fast and low-cost internet access to populations who do not have it everywhere in the world”, the group said in its press release.

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“We have an ambitious plan to start full-scale production of Project Kuiper and conduct the first customer trials as early as next year. This plant will be a big part of that,” Kuiper vice president of production operations Steve Metayer said in the statement. The group already has another site in Kirkland, Washington (northwest), where production will be launched at the end of the year.

The satellites will then be transported to Florida for final adjustments before being placed in low orbit using launchers from Blue Origin, also founded by Jeff Bezos, and the United Launch Alliance (ULA).

Elon Musk in the lead with Starlink

SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, began deploying its constellation of more than 3,700 Starlink satellites in 2019 and is currently, by far, the main player in this market, in which OneWeb, a British operator, is trying to compete.

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Several governments also want to join the race for low-orbit constellations, like China, which wants to have its own GuoWang constellation, planned with 13,000 satellites.

The European Union wants to launch 170 satellites as part of its Iris project, while the American space development agency, attached to the Ministry of Defense, plans between 300 and 500.


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