Amazon has entered into agreements with Arianespace, Blue Origin, and the United Launch Alliance (ULA) to provide heavy-lift launch services for Project Kuiper, Amazon’s initiative to increase global broadband access using a constellation of satellites in low-Earth orbit. (LEO).
The contracts total up to 83 launches over a five-year period, providing capacity for Amazon to deploy most of its 3,236-satellite constellation. It is the largest commercial acquisition of launch vehicles in history.
“The Kuiper project will provide fast, affordable broadband to tens of millions of customers in underserved communities around the world,” said Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon Devices & Services. “We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but the team has continued to achieve milestone after milestone in all aspects of our satellite system. These launch agreements reflect our incredible commitment and belief in the Kuiper project, and we are proud to work with such an impressive lineup of partners to deliver on our mission.”
The Kuiper project aims to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband to a wide range of customers, including individual homes, schools, hospitals, businesses, government agencies, disaster relief operations, mobile operators, and other organizations working in places without reliable Internet connectivity.
Amazon is designing and developing the entire system in-house, combining a constellation of advanced LEO satellites with small, affordable client terminals and a secure and resilient terrestrial communications network. The Kuiper project will leverage Amazon’s global logistics and operations footprint, as well as Amazon Web Services (AWS) network and infrastructure, to serve a diverse and global customer base.
Kuiper Project will also apply Amazon’s experience in the production of low-cost devices and services such as Echo and Kindle to offer service at an affordable and accessible price for customers.
«Ensuring the ability to launch from multiple vendors has been a key part of our strategy since day onesaid Rajeev Badyal, vice president of technology for Project Kuiper at Amazon. “This approach reduces the risk associated with launch vehicle shutdowns and supports long-term competitive 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 to simplify our launch and deployment schedule. We are excited to get one step closer to connecting residential, commercial and government customers around the world.”
The scale of these contracts will also drive the broader launch services industry, driving innovation and job creation in the United States and Europe. Suppliers from 49 US states help develop and manufacture the next generation of Blue Origin and ULA heavy-lift launch vehicles, while Arianespace relies on ArianeGroup’s network of suppliers from 13 European countries to produce its Ariane 6 rocket. Amazon is working with Beyond Gravity (formerly RUAG Space), a Swiss-based space technology provider, to build low-cost, scalable satellite dispensers that will help implement the Project Kuiper constellation. Beyond Gravity is opening a new production facility as a result of the partnership, doubling its production capacity and creating dozens of jobs in Linköping, Sweden.
Arianespace, the European space line, has established itself as a leader in the global launch services industry, completing 15 successful launches last year, including the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in late December. Arianespace is on track to begin operating its next-generation heavy-lift launch vehicle, Ariane 6, which is scheduled to launch for the first time later this year. Amazon has secured 18 Ariane 6 rockets as part of this initial deal.
«This contract, the largest we have signed, is a great moment in the history of Arianespace. We are honored to have a significant role to play in the rollout of Amazon’s Project Kuiper, which aims to connect tens of millions of people to the Internet,” said Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace. “It will build on Europe’s innovative spirit, industrial power and years of experience, and it is a huge win for the European launcher industry. That Amazon has chosen the Ariane 6 to do the job is a matter of tremendous pride for us and a huge vote of confidence in our new launch vehicle.”
Amazon has signed an agreement with Blue Origin to secure 12 launches using New Glenn, with options for up to 15 additional releases. New Glenn is powered by seven BE-4 engines and its reusable first stage is built for a minimum of 25 missions.
«We are honored to support Amazon’s ambitious mission of providing reliable and affordable broadband to underserved and underserved communities around the world through New Glenn and our BE-4 engines,” said Jarrett Jones, New Glenn Senior Vice President, Blue Origin. “New Glenn’s seven-meter fairing offers unprecedented mass and volume capabilities, providing Project Kuiper with maximum launch flexibility. We also congratulate our partner, United Launch Alliance. We are proud to build American-made engines for ULA’s Vulcan Centaur.”
Amazon’s deal with ULA covers 38 releases on Vulcan Centaur, ULA’s newest heavy-lift launch vehicle. This launch services contract also covers production and launch infrastructure to support an increased launch cadence at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, including a new dedicated version of the Vulcan Launch Platform (VLP). ULA is making additional investments in its Space Flight Operations and Processing Center (SPOC) to deliver a second ULA facility capable of processing full vehicles, transforming the launch site to have two parallel “launch lanes” for high-cadence operations. . The deal adds to Project Kuiper’s existing deal to insure nine ULA Atlas V vehicles.
«This agreement marks the beginning of an exciting new era for ULA and for the entire United States launch industry. With a total of 47 launches between our Atlas and Vulcan vehicles, we are proud to launch the most of this important constellation,” said Tory Bruno, President and CEO of ULA. “It will support hundreds of jobs, especially in places like Alabama, Colorado and Florida, and Amazon’s investments in launch infrastructure and capacity upgrades will benefit both commercial and government customers.”
The Kuiper project plans to launch two prototype missions later this year on ABL Space Systems’ RS1 rocket. There are now over 1,000 people at Amazon working on the Kuiper project, and the team continues to make progress as it nears a full, production-ready implementation, finalizing its high-performance satellite design, producing a compact and affordable client terminal. , and deploying a secure and reliable communications network that connects satellites with clients and infrastructure on the ground.
Once implemented, the Kuiper System will have the capacity to serve tens of millions of customers residential, commercial and government in places without reliable broadband. Going forward, Amazon will continue to partner with companies that share its commitment to bridging the global digital divide and creating new opportunities for innovation.