Amazon’s Project Kuiper on April 5 announced that it has planned for 83 rocket launches for the next five years along with multiple companies including Blue Origin. Amazon’s mega push for these launches comes as Amazon wants to compete with Starlink, a satellite internet service provided by Elon Musk-founded SpaceX.
Blue Origin is a company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Other partners for these launches include United Launch Associate—a joint venture between aerospace majors Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Among the 83 launches, the first two launches are scheduled for before the end of this calendar year. A majority of the rest of the launches will take place between 2024 and 2027 as two of the vehicles finalized for heavy-duty launches are still under development.
Currently, SpaceX enjoys sort of a first-mover advantage having already launched its own constellation of thousands of small satellites in the lower orbit. According to a 2019 Federal Communications Commission application, Amazon aims to put as many as 3,236 such satellites into space and it wants to install 50% of its total target by 2026. Other brands in the segment include Telesat and OneWeb.
At the time of the announcement, one Amazon spokesperson had said that this was the largest satellite vehicle launch deal amounting to billions of dollars without specifying the actual cost of all these launches combined. According to some estimates, the bills for these launches can go well beyond $10 billion.
As a fallout of these marquee deals, some space experts fear that all these launchers recruited to work with Amazon will leave many operators who want to replace old satellites or launch new ones with very few alternatives.