Amazon Will Soon Deorbit Its Prototype Project Kuiper Broadband Satellites

Why Trust Techopedia
Key Takeaways

  • Amazon's subsidiary is ready to deorbit its prototype satellites.
  • The Protoflight mission launched last October will end with this new phase.
  • The team is on track, and making further preparations to launch its full production system.

Amazon’s Project Kuiper team has confirmed it will deorbit its two prototype internet satellites, with a full-scale deployment of its full production system to follow.

The developers said they’d achieved a 100% success rate in the key mission objectives in the launch of KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2, the company’s two prototypes, with every major system performing as expected.

The early tests enabled further experiments in recent months, giving an insight to how the production satellite operation will be managed. 

Kuiper Systems LLC, otherwise known as Project Kuiper, is an Amazon subsidiary founded in 2019 with a mission to “increase global broadband access through a constellation of 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO).”

Like its rival SpaceX’s Starlink, Amazon is aiming to bring accessible, affordable broadband solutions to remote and underserved communities around the world, scooping up customers that incumbents can’t (or won’t) reach.

The Protoflight mission was launched last October, but it is now in its final stages. 

In line with space safety commitments and the original Kuiper plan, the company plans to actively deorbit all satellites within one year of mission end. The last phase will also include data collection on the deorbit process as the satellites are returned from above, using onboard active propulsion systems, over the next few months.

The Project Kuiper facilities in the Washington State cities of Kirkland and Redmond are ramping up for the full-scale deployment of the satellites, as well as the construction of a specialist processing operation at Kennedy Space Center. 

The satellite industry has been shaken up in recent weeks with the $3.1 billion merger of SES and Intersat.

The deal could have a considerable impact on the future of satellite technology, with the agreement expected to be rubber-stamped next year if it gets regulatory clearance.

While Starlink only operates in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), where it has a significant presence, SES and Intelsat are involved across multi-orbital operations, increasing their scope and opportunity.

Conversely, Starlink is reportedly burning through cash at a rapid rate that contradicts Elon Musk’s claim the effort has landed in “profitable territory.”