Amazon to compete with SpaceX by launching 3,236 satellites for global broadband

The project aims to provide 'high-speed, low-latency broadband'

Amazon announced Tuesday that it has secured up to 83 planned launches over the course of five years for its initiative to construct a low Earth orbit satellite constellation called Project Kuiper. 

The constellation will consist of 3,236 satellites and Amazon said in a release that the agreements with Arianespace, Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance (ULA) comprise the largest procurement of launch vehicles in history.

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Project Kuiper aims to provide "high-speed, low-latency broadband" to a wide range of customers, including schools, hospitals, businesses, government agencies, and disaster relief operations mobile operators working in places without reliable internet connectivity. 

The system is being designed at Amazon and will leverage Amazon Web Services' networking and infrastructure and the service will be delivered at an "affordable, accessible price for customers." 

"Project Kuiper will provide fast, affordable broadband to tens of millions of customers in unserved and underserved communities around the world," Dave Limp, the senior vice president for Amazon Devices & Services said in a statement. "We still have lots of work ahead, but the team has continued to hit milestone after milestone across every aspect of our satellite system. 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."

The launches are planned with Arianespace’s Ariane 6, Blue Origin’s New Glenn and ULA’s Vulcan Centaur rockets. Beyond Gravity will build a low-cost, scalable dispenser system to deploy the satellites.

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Amazon said the scale of the contracts would drive innovation and job creation, both in the U.S. and Europe.

Suppliers from 49 states will help to develop and manufacture the next-generation, heavy-lift launch vehicles Blue Origin and ULA.

Arianespace relies on suppliers from 13 European countries to produce its Ariane 6 rocket. 

Beyond Gravity is opening an all-new production facility as a result of the partnership, creating dozens of jobs in Linköping, Sweden.

"Securing launch capacity from multiple providers has been a key part of our strategy from day one," said Rajeev Badyal, vice president of technology for Project Kuiper. "This approach reduces risk associated with launch vehicle stand-downs and supports competitive long-term pricing for Amazon, producing cost savings that we can pass on to our customers. These large, heavy-lift rockets also mean we can deploy more of our constellation with fewer launches, helping simplify our launch and deployment schedule. We’re excited to move one step closer to connecting residential, business, and government customers around the world."

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The project goes toe-to-toe with Blue Origin competitor SpaceX's Starlink constellation. 

However, ARS Technica reported Tuesday that Amazon is likely paying at least three times as much per launch.