Amazon is planning to launch its own broadband satellites next year

Picture of the Earth with a web of links over the surface
(Image credit: Shutterstock / NicoElNino)

Amazon is planning to launch two test satellites into low Earth orbit by the end of 2021, the company has said.

The ecommerce giant revealed that it had applied for an experiential license to launch two satellites - KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2 - with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The satellites will most likely be the first of many that the company will launch as it looks to expand its commercial satellite broadband service.


The service, called Project Kuiper, is $10 billion dollars heavy and directly competes with Starlink, a satellite broadband service from SpaceX.

“We’ve invented lots of new technology to meet our cost and performance targets for Project Kuiper,” The Register cited Rajeev Badyal, vice president of technology for the project, saying on Monday.

“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 can’t wait to get started."

Amazon will, among other things, test the speeds of the devices, as well. According to The Register, earlier tests have shown the equipment being able to achieve 400Mbps of internet connectivity.

If the US communications watchdog approves the project, Amazon will strap its satellites to ABL Space Systems’ RS1 rocket, whose launch is expected next year, from Florida’s Cape Canaveral. If all goes to plan, they will orbit the Earth at 590 kilometers altitude, at a 35-degree inclination, and should circle around the planet once every 96.5 minutes. 

After the experiment, they will fall back onto the Earth, most likely disintegrating in the process. 

The main project, however, has already been greenlighted by the FCC. A total of 3,236 satellites are expected to make their way into Earth’s low orbit, by July 30, 2029. 

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.