In October of 2022, Amazon announced their Project Kuiper would launch more than 3,000 satellites into low-earth orbit to offer an Amazon-branded home internet service. Now Amazon has announced that they will start building satellites this year with the hopes of launching them in 2024.
Originally Amazon had hoped to put some test satellites into space in late 2022 and then early 2023. Now, though, it is starting to look like the fall or winter of 2023 may be more realistic. This comes as their launch partner ULA has suffered a delay that has prevented them from launching Amazon’s test satellites.
ULA was originally planning to start flying its new rocket in early May 2023. Now there are reports that this new Vulcan rocket may not launch until late 2023. PCMag is reporting that if these delays continue, Amazon may need to request an extension on their 2026 deadline, which could mean their 2025 plans to start selling internet may also be delayed.
Now there are reports that Amazon may use an older Atlas 5 rocket as soon as September to put several test satellites into space. Amazon is currently facing a deadline to have half of its satellites into space by July 2026 or risk losing FCC approval. Launching the test satellites as soon as possible has to be one of Amazon’s making goals right now.
To do this, Amazon has secured a deal with ULA, Arianespace, and Blue Origin to launch these satellites into space. Starting later this year Amazon will reportedly start building up to 5 satellites a day to fill these launches, according to the Business Journal.
Amazon is facing a deadline as the FCC has given it until mid-2026 to have 1,600 satellites in space or face losing its FCC approval for the project. Under the reported numbers, it could build as many as 1,825 satellites a year, helping it meet the FCC deadline.
Recently the head of Amazon’s home internet plans, Naveen Kachroo announced that Amazon will start selling home internet service in 2025. A handful of testers will be getting the service earlier, though as Amazon hopes to start beta testing the service in 2024
Naveen Kachroo also said that Amazon’s main goal here is to have Amazon’s Home Internet service as a low cost option. “Low cost and the ability to scale are at the core. We are a business, and so we have to make money, but we’re patient. We are willing to play the long game.”
Here is what Amazon’s CEO said in a letter to shareholders about its new home internet service earlier this year:
Kuiper is another example of Amazon innovating for customers over the long term in an area where there’s high customer need. Our vision for Kuiper is to create a low-Earth orbit satellite system to deliver high-quality broadband internet service to places around the world that don’t currently have it. There are hundreds of millions of households and businesses who don’t have reliable access to the internet. Imagine what they’ll be able to do with reliable connectivity, from people taking online education courses, using financial services, starting their own businesses, doing their shopping, enjoying entertainment, to businesses and governments improving their coverage, efficiency, and operations. Kuiper will deliver not only accessibility, but affordability. Our teams have developed low-cost antennas (i.e. customer terminals) that will lower the barriers to access. We recently unveiled the new terminals that will communicate with the satellites passing overhead, and we expect to be able to produce our standard residential version for less than $400 each. They’re small: 11 inches square, 1 inch thick, and weigh less than 5 pounds without their mounting bracket, but they deliver speeds up to 400 megabits per second. And they’re powered by Amazon-designed baseband chips. We’re preparing to launch two prototype satellites to test the entire end-to-end communications network this year, and plan to be in beta with commercial customers in 2024. The customer reaction to what we’ve shared thus far about Kuiper has been very positive, and we believe Kuiper represents a very large potential opportunity for Amazon. It also shares several similarities to AWS in that it’s capital intensive at the start, but has a large prospective consumer, enterprise, and government customer base, significant revenue and operating profit potential, and relatively few companies with the technical and inventive aptitude, as well as the investment hypothesis to go after it.