back to article Amazon books rocket flights for its Kuiper broadband internet satellites

Amazon's proposed broadband satellite constellation, Project Kuiper, has inched closer to making it into orbit, even if some of the rockets it intends to use have yet to take their first flights. On Tuesday Amazon announced deals with Arianespace, United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Blue Origin (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' pet …

  1. streaky


    Because why use the most stable, busiest and most cost-effective launch platform to launch your sats? Amazon aren't sat on endless cash for nothing y'know?

    Amazon aren't going away any time soon, doesn't mean you have to run your business like it's a government with masses of wastage and poorly-selected contract partners. You /could/ do other, interesting things, with that money and I suspect some would argue you could pay your warehouse staff more - but what do I know, it's a free market and whatnot..

    I talked about this with OneWeb when the whole Russia thing blew up, people thought I was nuts for suggesting that they use SpaceX (and should have been all along) - like it's bad to make your business more streamlined on costs or use the best available launch platform, you're not in competition with SpaceX you're in competition with Starlink and Starlink is going to exist regardless of if you use SpaceX to launch - at least keep your costs down and successes high and give yourself a fighting chance.

    1. tony72

      Re: Obviously.

      OneWeb are targeting businesses and institutions rather than domestic customers, so they are not as much direct competitors to Starlink, unlike Amazon's Project Kuiper.

      Also even SpaceX doesn't have infinite capacity. Their launch schedule is already pretty packed for the foreseeable future (depending on when exactly Starship comes online, of course), so it's not a given that they would be able to fit in another entire constellation in the next few years, even if they wanted to.

      1. hammarbtyp

        Re: Obviously.

        Businesses will use the cheapest option that meets their requirements .

        Problem is the market looks like its going to get saturated pretty quickly, and I don't see all these providers surviving. At some point there will be a price war and one of these are going to go to the wall.

        SpaceX are well ahead of the competition in terms of deployment (owning your own rocket company helps). Amazon are late to the game, but have deep pockets. Not sure where this leaves oneweb.

        Saying that, soon there will be so many satellites up there you won't need to buy a disk, you could just reflect a laser of the shell of components in close earth orbit formation

      2. streaky

        Re: Obviously.

        "OneWeb are targeting businesses and institutions rather than domestic customers"

        Starlink are doing both. There is a reason for OneWeb to exist, but they are actually in competition.

        Might point was you can guarantee they skipped SpaceX ideologically rather than as a business decision - SpaceX are looking for excuses to launch stuff into orbit, they're desperate for more customers because the more customers they have and launches they do the cheaper the platform gets.

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Obviously.

      I was wondering why Jeff would risk litigation from Amazon shareholders for buying from Jeff's privately owned Blue Origin when cheaper rides are available from SpaceX. There could actually be two valid defences: Blue might have bid lower and OneWeb might have bought all the remaining launches from SpaceX.

      Falcon 9 is limited by how quickly SpaceX can build second stages, the time taken for the drone ships to bring the first stages back, the number of launches the FAA has permitted from each launch site and the amount of time SLS wet dress rehearsals block other launches. OneWeb launches are limited by the volume of the F9 fairing, not mass. The payload may be light enough to return the first stage straight back to the launch site without needing a cruise on a drone ship. The stage 1 manufacturing rate probably matches the total number of launches SpaceX is licensed to carry out from each launch site. That is unlikely to grow because launches are already a problem that aviators have to route around and other launch provides need the same sky too.

      Kuiper's FCC license depends on getting half the satellites in place by mid-2026 and the rest by mid-2029. Any delay in the up-coming new rockets puts Kuiper at risk. A few years from now, Amazon may have to choose between begging the FCC for an extension or buying from the only provider with the required capacity: SpaceX Starship.

      (Arianespace decided not to develop a re-usable rocket because there would not be enough launches to keep the existing work-force employed. This may turn out to be a false assumption.)

      (Just found out you can buy a Falcon 9 from Amazon ;-)

  2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Said Jeff to Jeff...

    ...where are my engines, me?

  3. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Earth renamed Krikkit

    Is this, like no onshore wind in the UK, another attempt to prevent renewables working?

  4. Potemkine! Silver badge

    We were so in need of more junk in space. Thank you Amazon, OneWeb!

    Unless of course they provide a solution that no launcher part nor any ageing satellite stay up there... but I doubt it. Between paying for cleaning or keeping the money for themselves, I guess what is their choice.

    1. Natalie Gritpants Jr

      It's LEO. Self cleaning

      1. hoola Silver badge


        There is going to be some much stuff in LEO with all these "constellations" that is is only a matter of time before there is a very messy catastrophe. At that point all bets are off with how much survives.

        This is just a race between two very rich companies (people?) for Internet domination.

    2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      The satelities are all in low Earth orbit so experience a minute amount of atmospheric drag. They will naturally fall back to Earth over time. They need engines just to stay in orbit. It's a good failsafe.

      As to the rockets: SpaceX are recycling/reusing their first stage rockets & fairings. Not sure what happens to the second stage. As to the other launch providers....

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Be interesting to see what happens when there's a solar flare going on and it knocks down several of these things that short out the ionosphere! DIY Carrington event?

        1. The Axe

          @Tom7 - There has already been a solar flare which caused a number of Starlink's to not reach their proper orbit and to fall back to earth.

          1. phuzz Silver badge

            Although they were brought down not by RF interference, but because the solar flare heated up the Earth's atmosphere, expanding it, and causing more drag on the newly-launched satellites than they could cope with.

            The electrical effects of solar flares are somewhat overblown.

  5. iron Silver badge

    Three rockets that don't exist - two of which rely on the same non-existant engines from a company that has never put a rocket into orbit.


    Even if everything goes to plan and all three rockets work on schedule, Project Kuiper will be years behind Starlink and cost far more to operate.

    Jeff's BO seems determined to prove that his Amazon success was pure fluke.

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