Jeff Bezos is doubling down on his Space investments, and doubling down in a big way. Amazon today announced, that it will invest a humongous $10Bn to develop a broadband internet system that is delivered via a constellation of satellites. Sounds similar to something? Of course it does. This is what Elon Musk is already doing with Starlink, and Bezos is taking the fight to him in the aggressively expanding space industry.
This announcement follows up from the approval that FTC has provided to Amazon for such a system. The plan, called “Project Kuiper”, aims at deploying a constellation of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites that will compete with the Starlink network. The investment news also comes right when Amazon posted its biggest profit in its 26-year history.
Talking about its big financial commitment to such a project, Amazon said in a blog post, “A project of this scale requires significant effort and resources, and, due to the nature of LEO constellations, it is not the kind of initiative that can start small. You have to commit,”
The company, despite committing massive resources, will still start quite behind the line in comparison to SpaceX. Elon Musk’s space company is known for its rapid deployment of futuristic tech, in record time and at budgets far less than those of Bezos’ Blue Origin or NASA for that matter. Starlink is an example of the same.
SpaceX has already deployed over 500 starlink satellites, with plans to start service in at least some areas of the US by the end of this year. More importantly, SpaceX has been reusing Falcon 9 rocket boosters like reusable kitchenware, using the same booster to launch rockets, a record 5 times now. All of that contributes heavily on cost reduction. That in turn translates to lower costs to the consumer, a factor Bezos will be deeply thinking of.
Amazon says it has got FTC’s approval to deploy and operate a constellation of 3,236 satellites. The authorization allows Project Kuiper to deliver satellite-based broadband services in the United States.
Apart from a direct to consumer service, Amazon says it is “committed to working with public and private sector partners that share our vision for the project”. Once fully deployed, Project Kuiper will also provide backhaul solutions for wireless carriers extending LTE and 5G service to new regions.