European space boost from Amazon satellites

European space boost from Amazon satellites

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The launch of Amazon’s Project Kuiper constellation of 3,236 satellites will see a significant boost to the European space industry with two of the largest ever contracts.

Arianespace will be launching satellites on its next generation Ariane 6 rockets over three years, while the satellites will be dispersed from deployment systems developed by Beyond Gravity (formerly Ruag Space).

Both deals are the largest contracts for the companies involved, building equipment in 13 European countries. Beyond Gravity is doubling its production capacity in Linköping in Sweden.

The deployment system will be used with the other launchers, Blue Origin’s New Glenn and United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur rockets. The contracts total up to 83 launches over a five-year period, the largest commercial procurement of launch vehicles in history.

“Project Kuiper will provide fast, affordable broadband to tens of millions of customers in unserved and underserved communities around the world,” said Dave Limp, Senior Vice President for Amazon Devices & Services. “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.”

Amazon is designing and developing the entire system in-house, combining the low earth orbit constellation with small, affordable customer terminals and a secure, resilient ground-based communications network. Project Kuiper will use Amazon’s global logistics and operations footprint, as well as Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) networking and infrastructure.

“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 at Amazon. “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.”

Blue Origin will provide 12 launches using New Glenn, with options for up to 15 additional launches. The agreement with ULA covers 38 launches on Vulcan Centaur, ULA’s newest heavy-lift launch vehicle. This launch services contract also covers production and launch infrastructure at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, including a new, dedicated version of the Vulcan Launch Platform (VLP).

There are now more than 1,000 people at Amazon working on Project Kuiper, moving to full, production-ready deployment. 

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