Amazon is set to launch its first ever internet satellites on Friday (6 October) as the company looks to rival SpaceX’s Starlink.
The e-commerce giant’s launch is hoping to kick off its space internet service known as Project Kuiper.
Two satellites will be launched from Florida at 7pm on Friday and will be placed into an orbit 500km above Earth’s surface.
The satellites, named Kuiper-Sat1 and KuiperSat-2, will be used as a tester for the 3200 satellites which will make up Amazon’s Kuiper mega constellation.
Project Kuiper will connect to remote terminals on Earth allowing for internet access to be provided to remote locations. Elon Musk-owned SpaceX and several other companies have also made remote access a focus point in their internet mission,
Amazon will be playing catch up to the players already settled in the market, Tim Farrar, a satellite communications consultant, told the New Scientist.
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SpaceX’s Starlink low earth orbit internet broadband satellite constellation is the largest fleet of satellites, with over 4,000 operating satellites in orbit. The company currently provides internet access to around 2 million users.
Satellite broadband is a growing market, with market shares varying depending on the geographic region and customer vertical, research company GlobalData wrote in its 2023 Space Economy report.
Starlink has yet to take market share away from incumbents like Hughes and Viasat. As maritime and in-flight access to broadband internet continues to grow user demand, multiple players are able to thrive in the market.
However, it took Hughes around eight years to reach one million subscribers, while Starlink achieved that figure in under two years, GlobalData notes.