Amazon selected Kent-based Blue Origin as one of three companies to provide rockets to launch its Project Kuiper internet satellites.
Amazon signed Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket for 12 launches with options up to 15 additional launches, according to an April 5 Blue Origin press release.
Project Kuiper, Amazon’s initiative to increase global broadband access using a constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit, also signed contracts with Colorado-based United Launch Alliance (a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin) and European-based Arianespace. The contracts total up to 83 launches over a five-year period, providing capacity for Amazon to deploy the majority of its 3,236-satellite constellation.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also is the founder of Blue Origin, which opened in Kent in 2000, although he companies are operated separately. Amazon did not release any contract terms.
“We’re honored to support Amazon’s ambitious mission to provide reliable, affordable broadband to unserved and underserved communities around the world through New Glenn and our BE-4 engines,” said Jarrett Jones, Blue Origin’s senior vice president for New Glenn. “New Glenn’s massive 7-meter fairing offers unprecedented mass and volume capabilities, and provides Project Kuiper maximum launch flexibility. We also congratulate our partner, United Launch Alliance, who was selected today by Amazon to support Project Kuiper. We’re proud to build American-made engines for ULA’s Vulcan Centaur.”
The FCC in 2020 authorized Amazon’s system, which the company has said it will “invest more than $10 billion” to build, according to cnbc.com. FCC rules require Amazon to deploy half of its planned satellites within six years – meaning about 1,600 in orbit by July 2026. Amazon has not yet announced launch dates but said they will happen over a five-year period Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
“We still have lots of work ahead, but the team has continued to hit milestone after milestone across every aspect of our satellite system, said Dave Limp, senior vice president for Amazon Devices & Services. “These launch agreements reflect our incredible commitment and belief in Project Kuiper, and we’re proud to be working with such an impressive lineup of partners to deliver on our mission.”
Project Kuiper puts Amazon in competition with Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which has launched about 2,000 Starlink satellites so far, serving about 250,000 total subscribers, according to cnbc.com.