The two prototype satellites - KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2 - will serve as a testbed for technologies that Amazon plans to use to offer broadband internet service around the globe.
Amazon has signed a multi-launch deal with rocket developer ABL Space Systems, which plans to launch two prototype satellites for its Project Kuiper broadband megaconstellation in 2022.
Amazon filed a request with the Federal Communications Commission to launch and operate its first two prototype satellites, called KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2. Amazon said the satellites will launch with ABL Space on its RS1 rocket.
Rajeev Badyal, Vice President of Technology for Project Kuiper, said: “We’ve invented lots of new technology to meet our cost and performance targets for Project Kuiper. All of the systems are testing well in simulated and lab settings, and we’ll soon be ready to see how they perform in space. There is no substitute for on-orbit testing, and we expect to learn a lot given the complexity and risk of operating in such a challenging environment. We cant wait to get started.”
“KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2 will include much of technology and sub-systems that power the production version of our satellite design phased array and parabolic antennas, power and propulsion systems, custom-designed modems and more. The team will also conduct experimental tests using prototypes of our low-cost customer terminal, which has been designed to provide fast, reliable service at a more affordable price than legacy antennas,” Amazon said in a blog post.
KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2 are designed for atmospheric demise and will be actively deorbited after the mission, and the application outlines additional measures Amazon is taking to avoid and mitigate the risk of orbital debris.
Amazon plans to send up the satellites on separate ABL launches, which will lift off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The companies have been working together for several months, Amazon said, with two design reviews complete.
With a one-ton-plus payload capacity, RS1 delivers the right capacity and cost-efficiency to support the mission profile. ABLs RS1 and GS0 launch system are also fully containerised and mobile, providing the speed and flexibility to support these early launches.
Harry O’Hanley, CEO of ABL, added: “Kuiper’s mission to bring high-speed, low-latency broadband service to underserved communities is highly motivating for our team here at ABL. Amazon will play a central role in the next generation of space infrastructure, and we’re proud to have been selected as their launch partner for these critical early flights.”