Amazon Initiates Test Satellite Deployment for Internet Service Rivaling SpaceX

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Amazon launches satellites

Amazon has initiated the deployment of experimental satellites for its forthcoming internet service, aiming to rival SpaceX’s network. The launch took place via the Atlas V rocket by United Launch Alliance, carrying a pair of test satellites, marking the commencement of a project designed to enhance global internet accessibility with a fleet of approximately 3,236 satellites encircling the Earth.


Amazon intends to commence its internet service by the conclusion of the next calendar year. SpaceX, led by Elon Musk, holds a considerable advantage over Amazon, along with its founder, Jeff Bezos, who operates Blue Origin, a rocket company. SpaceX conducted its maiden test of Starlink satellites in 2018, followed by the launch of operational satellites in 2019. Since then, SpaceX has successfully deployed over 5,000 Starlink satellites from launch sites in Florida and California, utilizing its Falcon rockets.


Europe’s Eutelsat OneWeb has also been actively launching internet satellites, with approximately 600 currently in orbit. Originally, Amazon had intended to deploy its satellites on the inaugural launch of ULA’s Vulcan rocket. Due to delays affecting the Vulcan rocket, which are expected to persist until at least the end of this year, Amazon decided to utilize the well-established Atlas V for this purpose.


The Federal Communications Commission, in granting licensing for the program, stipulated that a minimum of half of the proposed satellites must be operational by 2026, with all of them expected to be operational by 2029. To achieve this goal, Amazon has secured 77 launch opportunities through contracts with ULA, Blue Origin, and Europe’s Arianespace.