Amazon rivals SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service

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Earlier this month, Amazon announced that it had finalized “largest commercial purchase of launchers in history.”

The tech giant has signed a total of 83 launch contracts split between three companies: Blue Origin, United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Arianespace.

In the years to come, these companies launch Amazon’s satellite internet service, called Project Kuiper, which is expected to rival SpaceX’s Starlink.

Starlink is already operational, with more than 2,000 satellites in orbit, which means Amazon has a lot of catching up to do, as it has yet to make its first test launches, slated for later this year. Still, Jeff Bezos’ company thinks it has a few tricks up its sleeve that will set Project Kuiper apart from SpaceX’s offering.

Launch agreements reflect “incredible commitment and belief in the Kuiper project”

Much like Starlink, Project Kuiper’s stated goal is to provide “high-speed, low-latency broadband” to remote locations and organizations with poor Internet connectivity, including businesses, hospitals, government agencies, and the details.

“We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but the team has continued to take step by step in all aspects of our satellite system,” Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon Devices & Services, said in a recent press release. “These launch agreements reflect our incredible commitment and confidence in the Kuiper project, and we are proud to work with such an impressive range of partners to carry out our mission.”

While there is understandably more information available regarding SpaceX’s already operational Starlink service, we can draw a direct comparison between the number of satellites the two companies aim to launch into orbit. SpaceX was recently cleared to launch 12,000 more satellites by the FAA, and it is seeking permission to launch a total of about 30,000 of its Starlink satellites. Amazon wants to launch a relatively small number by comparison: it currently only plans to launch 3,236 satellites into low Earth orbit.

SpaceX’s Starlink service is currently priced at $110 per month, with an additional $99 deposit and $599 hardware fee for the satellite dish, including taxes and shipping. Amazon has yet to announce its pricing for Project Kuiper Internet, although it said in its recent statement that it “will be leverage Amazon’s global logistics and operational footprint, as well as Amazon Web Services (AWS) networking and infrastructure to make its service more accessible and affordable. Amazon also has a strong track record with home electronics, such as the Amazon Echo, and it might be able to leverage its expertise in this area to cut costs.

Will Amazon keep its promise of 400 megabits per second?

Amazon also claims that it will offer users up to 400 megabits per second of speed, which is favorable compared to Starlink’s speed of between 100 and 200 megabits per second. However, Starlink premium offers up to 500 megabits per second at a cost of $500 per month.

SpaceX has also been gradually increasing its internet speed by adding more satellites to its constellation, so Amazon will need to launch satellites into orbit before it can provide hard data on the speed of its internet service — and it relies heavily on data. launchers that are yet to make a maiden voyage, such as Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket, founded by Jeff Bezos. Amazon says it will launch its first two prototype Kuiper satellites into orbit this year, which means we’ll know more about its service very soon.

In addition to promises of high-speed internet everywhere, the two companies will also have to deal with criticism related to the issue of space debris. SpaceX will likely be the worst offender, given that it aims to launch tens of thousands more satellites than Amazon. In fact, NASA has warned that SpaceX’s satellite could reduce our ability to detect potentially catastrophic asteroid impacts before they happen. Then, of course, there’s the environmental impact of sending so many payloads into orbit. Is satellite broadband internet worth the potential costs to the planet?

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