Published: Sat, April 06, 2019
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Amazon Planning 3,236-Satellite Constellation for Internet Connectivity

Amazon Planning 3,236-Satellite Constellation for Internet Connectivity

The Amazon effort, codenamed Project Kuiper, first became public through regulatory filings with the International Telecommunications Union.

The constellation is planned as a network of 784 satellites at the lowest altitude (590 kilometres), 1,296 satellites at the next-highest altitude (610 kilometres) and the remaining 1,156 floating at the highest (630 kilometres) orbit above the Earth.

In November, Amazon announced that it would build 12 ground stations to transmit data to and from satellites, indicating grander space ambitions.

Amazon says it wants to focus primarily on markets where internet access is now limited.

It will launch 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit to bring high-speed, affordable internet across the world.

The long-term project will cater to people globally who lack basic access to broadband internet, Amazon said in a statement on Thursday. As of now, there is no timeline for the Amazon's Project Kuiper. Together, these satellites should cover roughly 95 per cent of the Earth's population. Elon Musk's SpaceX competitor is, of course, planning a similar network called Starlink, and I expect Amazon's plans will put some pressure on SpaceX and their always precarious financial plans. OneWeb launched its first six satellites in February, and Elon Musk's SpaceX launched two test satellites past year for its "Starlink" network, which is known to be the first step toward its goal of a constellation of 4,425 satellites. OneWeb, which has backing from Sprint owner SoftBank, has six satellites up and may have as many as 650 in the future. Earlier this year, Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos' rocket company also signed a deal with Canada's Telesat to launch part of the satellite constellation.

Meanwhile, Facebook, Boeing and LeoSat have revealed plans to beam internet from space.

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