Amazon may turn to rival SpaceX for satellite launches

SpaceX is using its Falcon 9 rocket to launch its own internet constellation into orbit.

SpaceX is using its Falcon 9 rocket to launch its own internet constellation into orbit.
Photo: SpaceX

Amazon has a tight schedule to launch its internet satellites into orbit, so the company may have to look to competitor SpaceX for rides.

During a live interview with the Washington Post, Amazon supper vice creamResident Dave Limp expressed the company’s openness to using SpaceX’s heavy rockets to deploy its Internet Project Kuiper satellites. “We’re open to talking to SpaceX, you’d be crazy not to have their track record here,” Limp said.

However, Amazon isn’t interested in SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets currently powering the company’s Starlink satellites. Amazon’s internet satellites are larger than those deployed by SpaceX, which is why the company is considering SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket and its next Starship rocket, the last of which is still in development.

Limp’s statement comes as a surprised given that Amazon has signed agreements earlier this year with Arianespace, Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance to put its satellites into orbit, while excluding SpaceX from the mix. The two companies aim to bring high-speed internet to remote areas of the world by broadcasting data signals from low Earth orbit.

SpaceX is building its own internet megaconstellation and has already spear more than 3,000 satellites with its Falcon 9 rocket. This puts Elon Musk’s company well ahead of its competitors, as Amazon has not yet launched its prototype satellites into orbit. The company recently announced its plans to launch the first two Internet satellites of the Kuiper project later this year aboard United Launch Alliance’s upcoming Vulcan Centaur rocket, which was due to launch in 2020 but has suffered multiple delays.

Amazon is apparently out of rocket options, while SpaceX has plenty, so a future deal between industry rivals makes sense. A 2020 authorization order of the Federal Communications Commission stipulates that the launch of Amazon 50% of its 3,236 Kuiper projects satellites by 2026, and the rest by 2029, otherwise the company will lose its license. “The thing is, the heavy launch capability is still pretty cunder duress, and I think it will be for years to come,” Limp said during the interview. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Musk have a long-standing rivalrymaking this arrangement possible somewhat inconvenient.

Amazon wants to deploy an internet constellation made up of thousands of satellites, while SpaceX wants to send more than 42,000 satellites into orbit for Starlink. As these companies rush to build their satellite constellations in the sky, astronomers on Earth are concerned how these satellites will interfere with observations of the cosmos.

After: SpaceX says Falcon 9 can launch future Starlink satellites – a sign the ship is far from ready

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