Amazon’s ‘Project Kuiper’ to offer broadband access from orbit via 3,236 satellites

“Amazon is joining the race to provide broadband internet access around the globe via thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit, newly uncovered filings show,” Alan Boyle reports for GeekWire. “The effort, code-named Project Kuiper, follows up on last September’s mysterious reports that Amazon was planning a ‘big, audacious space project’ involving satellites and space-based systems. The Seattle-based company is likely to spend billions of dollars on the project, and could conceivably reap billions of dollars in revenue once the satellites go into commercial service.”

Boyle reports, “It’ll take years to bring the big, audacious project to fruition, however, and Amazon could face fierce competition from SpaceX, OneWeb and other high-profile players.”

“Project Kuiper’s first public step took the form of three sets of filings made with the International Telecommunications Union last month by the Federal Communications Commission on behalf of Washington, D.C.-based Kuiper Systems LLC,” Boyle reports. “The filings lay out a plan to put 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit — including 784 satellites at an altitude of 367 miles (590 kilometers); 1,296 satellites at a height of 379 miles (610 kilometers); and 1,156 satellites in 391-mile (630-kilometer) orbits”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Looks like, on paper at least, Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s Starlink will have some competition.


    1. Doing a back of the envelope calculation…

      If we assume each of these satellites have a solar facing cross sectional area of 4 meters (most are smaller, some much smaller), and if we assume all the constellations for which ITU filings have been at least provisionally filed, then…

      The total cross sectional area of all these satellites will be just over 0.01% (yes, just over one hundredth of one percent) of the spherical surface about the Earth at the altitude they will be orbiting.

      Will a 0.01% blockage have any measureable effect? I doubt it, but it would be interesting for someone to do the true calculations and deep analysis.

      Just remember that at these altitudes the Earth radiates back into space an average of 300 watts per square meter, which would be absorbed by these satellites and re-radiated back to the ground. You need to put that into your detailed calculations too!

      1. Hmmmm…
        My envelope says…
        3236 satellites @ 4m^2 is 12944 m^2

        If all were at the lowest orbit of 367 km and we add the radius of the Earth we are talking about a sphere of radius 6723000 m. This would be the smallest sphere.

        Since a sphere has area=4πr^2 this works out to be 5.68e14 m^2

        A factor of 2.3e-11 smaller, or 2.3e-9%.
        2.3 nano%.

        Your envelope is larger than mine by a factor of 4,388,006.027

        But I’m just being a dick… Peace!

        -Sent from my Galaxy S10+

    1. One of the Commercial Satellite Internet Providers has already, repeatedly demonstrated 1.3 Gbps to and from a user through one of their satellites.

      I’d suggest that this fits the description of “broadband”.

  1. Goodbye ozone layer…

    That many rockets (in a relatively short period of time) to get these satellites in space will chew up a lot of the ozone layer.

    …where’s my sunblock…

    1. I have not seen any filings by Apple/Boeing. There are many others as I mention below.

      If Apple wants to get into this game, they need to get going yesterday. You really can’t catch up in the satellite world by just throwing money at it.

      Besides, Boeing may the THE least cost effective aerospace company on the planet. (And, that’s really saying something when the comparison includes some of the state subsidized European companies.)

  2. There are many proposed Commercial Satellite Internet Providers.

    There are SpaceX’s Starlink, Amazon’s Kuiper, WorldVu’s OneWeb, SES-GS’ O3b, LeoSat, Telesat, Audacity, Karousel, Viasat, Space Norway, and others I can’t remember off the top of my head.

    Most won’t survive. This has happened before. With the “little LEOs” of the mid 90s only one of seven survived (Orbcomm) and that was only after going through bankruptcy restructuring. With the “big LEOs” two out of three survived and both went through bankruptcy restructuring (and neither are providing services they proposed at the very beginning).

    I suspect only two or three of these massive constellations will survive at all.

    SpaceX does not have any operational satellites up nor does Telesat. Each has experimental satellites up. OneWeb recently launched six operational satellites with many more by year’s end. Others are in various stages of getting things implemented.

    Amazon’s Kuiper is just a paper study at this point, but Amazon has very deep pockets. If Amazon can push through the large costs to get the system operational, they might actually succeed.

    1. That’s because your pen is tiny, John. You need a big one if you are going to stroke the big ones. You keep up with your shorty small art, John. It’s what you do best. Leave the big jobs to the real men with big pens. What they are attempting is far beyond your pay grade as an uninspired shorty artist.

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