Update August 7, 2023: Project Kuiper is now planning to launch its prototype satellites on an Atlas V rocket. ULA is working backward from a launch date in fall 2023. We will have more detail to share as the mission approaches.
Amazon created Project Kuiper to deliver fast, affordable broadband to unserved and underserved communities around the world, and our upcoming prototype mission will move us one step closer to delivering on that vision. Our first two satellites—Kuipersat-1 and Kuipersat-2—will be completed later this year, and we are now planning to deploy both satellites on the first flight of United Launch Alliance's (ULA) new Vulcan Centaur rocket in early 2023.
Prototype mission update
ULA is scheduled to provide 47 launches for our satellite constellation, and using Vulcan Centaur for this mission will give us practical experience working together ahead of those launches. The rocket will launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, and our prototype satellites are scheduled to share the ride with the Peregrine lunar lander, a NASA-funded spacecraft from Astrobotic.
Our prototype mission will help us test how the different pieces of our satellite network work together, adding real-world data from space to results from our extensive lab testing, fieldwork, and simulation. We’ll use findings from the mission to help finalize design, deployment, and operational plans for our commercial satellite system, which will provide reliable, affordable broadband to customers around the world.
“We couldn’t be more excited to join the first launch of ULA’s Vulcan Centaur. We’ve already secured 38 Kuiper launches on Vulcan, and using the same launch vehicle for our prototype mission gives us a chance to practice payload integration, processing, and mission management procedures ahead of those full-scale commercial launches,” said Rajeev Badyal, vice president of technology for Project Kuiper. “Our prototype satellites will be ready this year, and we look forward to flying with ULA.”
Preparing for commercial launches
Alongside preparations for this mission, the Project Kuiper team is starting to scale production to support a full deployment. Our first production satellites—the more advanced spacecraft that will power our commercial broadband service—are scheduled to launch on ULA’s Atlas V rocket. From there, we will begin to phase in the Vulcan rocket alongside newer heavy-lift rockets from two other space launch companies, Arianespace and Blue Origin.
Amazon has secured up to 92 launches with ULA, Arianespace, and Blue Origin to deploy its constellation of 3,236 satellites—marking the largest commercial procurement of launch vehicles in history. We also plan to retain two launches with ABL Space Systems, which was originally slotted to carry our two prototype satellites using its all-new RS1 rocket. This diverse launch portfolio reduces risk associated with launch vehicle stand-downs, and gives us flexibility to use different rockets to address different needs for the program.
To support our ambitious deployment plan, Amazon and our partners are investing in new production and launch infrastructure in the U.S. and Europe. Many of those projects are already underway: ULA is expanding manufacturing facilities in Alabama, Northrop Grumman is increasing production and adding capacity in Utah for its solid rocket boosters, and Beyond Gravity is building a second satellite dispenser production facility in Linköping, Sweden.
More than 1,000 people work on Project Kuiper, and the team is making considerable progress as we prepare to serve tens of millions of customers around the world. Stay tuned for updates on our prototype mission later this year.