How Amazon Kuiper Is Battling Starlink For Space Internet Supremacy - Dispatch Weekly

August 4, 2020 - Reading time: 3 minutes

Amazon received the stamp of approval from US communications regulators this week to put thousands of internet satellites into low Earth orbit. Amazon is preparing for a battle with Starlink, the world’s largest satellite operator, to use space for Internet access.

In fact, the design for the metallic birds is still pending, according to an FCC report. It is not yet known exactly when they will be released, but it is likely in the next few months.

At that point, the service will be shut down, but Amazon still hopes to provide Internet access to hard-to-reach areas of the US with the so-called Project Kuiper, which costs $10 billion. The birds will ascend in two batches, the first batch containing 578 sats and the second batch containing 1,000 sats.

But there are still too many places where broadband access is unreliable or non-existent. On Friday, after the FCC approval was announced, Dave Limp, an executive at Amazon, said: “We’ve heard so many stories recently of people who couldn’t do their jobs or school work because they don’t have reliable internet at home.

The constellation will orbit between 590 and 630 kilometers above the Earth’s surface and will be used as a “high-speed, high-speed, broadband, low-latency, multi-gigabit broadband network,” according to the FCC. After reviewing these documents, we conclude that granting Kuiper’s request serves the public interest in accordance with the requirements and conditions set forth herein, “the FCC report said.

American consumers will benefit from the broadband services Kuiper intends to provide. Amazon, which plans to bring 50 percent of its fleet to market and introduce the other half, has invested $1.2 billion in the constellation, according to the FCC report.

Under the updated FCC rules, the e-commerce giant must submit a plan to minimize the risk of space junk forming and spreading. As more satellites are launched into space, objects collide with each other, and pieces of metal dropped by birds can fall on others, creating a chain reaction into a sea of floating debris that will hinder future launches and missions of spacecraft, known as the Kessler effect. The FCC wrote that Kuiper is also required to receive changes, including an updated description of how space debris can be reduced before a mission is launched, in accordance with the regulations of the U.S. Space Launch System (SLS).

It is unclear how Amazon plans to put the satellite into orbit, but CEO Jeff Bezos has Blue Origins as his company’s primary mission for the next decade.

DW Staff

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