Amazon today announced agreements with Arianespace, Blue Origin, and 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 the majority of its 3,236-satellite constellation. It is 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.”
Project Kuiper aims to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband to a wide range of customers, including individual households, 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 customer terminals and a secure, resilient ground-based communications network. Project Kuiper will leverage Amazon’s global logistics and operations footprint, as well as Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) networking and infrastructure, to serve a diverse, global customer base. Project Kuiper will also apply Amazon’s experience producing low-cost devices and services like Echo and Kindle to deliver service at an affordable, accessible price for customers.
“Securing launch capacity from multiple providers has been a key part of our strategy from day one. 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. We’re excited to move one step closer to connecting residential, business, and government customers around the world.”
Rajeev Badyal, Vice President of Technology for Project Kuiper at Amazon
The scale of these contracts will also boost the wider launch services industry, driving innovation and job creation in the United States and Europe. Suppliers from 49 U.S. states help develop and manufacture the next-generation, heavy-lift launch vehicles from Blue Origin and ULA, while Arianespace relies on ArianeGroup’s network of suppliers from 13 European countries to produce its Ariane 6 rocket. In addition, Amazon is working with Beyond Gravity (formerly RUAG Space), a Switzerland-headquartered space technology provider, to build low-cost, scalable satellite dispensers that will help deploy the Project Kuiper constellation. Beyond Gravity is opening an all-new production facility as a result of the partnership, doubling its production capacity and creating dozens of jobs in Linköping, Sweden.
Arianespace, the European spaceline, 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 its way to start operating its next-generation heavy-lift launch vehicle, Ariane 6, which is scheduled to launch for the first time by the end of this year. Amazon has secured 18 Ariane 6 rockets as part of this initial agreement.
“This contract, the largest we’ve ever signed, is a great moment in Arianespace’s history. We are honored to be given a significant role to play in the deployment 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 the European innovative spirit, industrial might, and years of experience, and it is a major 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 great vote of confidence in our new launch vehicle.”
About Blue Origin
Amazon has signed an agreement with Blue Origin to secure 12 launches using New Glenn, with options for up to 15 additional launches. New Glenn is powered by seven BE-4 engines and its reusable first stage is built for a minimum of 25 missions.
“We’re honored to support Amazon’s ambitious mission to provide reliable, affordable broadband to unserved and underserved communities around the world through New Glenn and our BE-4 engines,” said Jarrett Jones, Senior Vice President, New Glenn, Blue Origin. “New Glenn’s seven-meter fairing offers unprecedented mass and volume capabilities, providing Project Kuiper maximum launch flexibility. We also congratulate our partner, United Launch Alliance. We’re proud to build American-made engines for ULA’s Vulcan Centaur.”
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