Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are about to lock horns once again. Last month, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the final aspects of Project Kuiper, Amazon's effort to deliver high-speed Internet access from space. In May, the company will launch test versions of the Kuiper communications satellites in an attempt to take on SpaceX's own venture, Starlink, and tap into a market of perhaps hundreds of millions of prospective internet users.
Other companies are hoping to do the same, and a few are already doing so, but Starlink and Amazon are the major players. "It is really a head-to-head rivalry," says Tim Farrar, a satellite expert from the firm TMF Associates in the U.S.
The rocket that will launch Amazon's first two Kuiper satellites—the United Launch Alliance's new Vulcan Centaur rocket—has been assembled at Cape Canaveral in Florida. Its inaugural launch is set to fly two prototype Kuiper satellites, called KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2, as early as May 4. Ultimately, Amazon plans to launch a total of 3,236 full Kuiper satellites by 2029. The first of that fleet could launch in early 2024.
"They have ambitions to be disruptive across the technology sector," says Farrar. "It's hardly surprising that they've jumped in here."From MIT Technology Review
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