What’s the skinny? In a blog post Amazon announced that their low earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation that will be used to serve broadband internet to every corner of the planet was approved by the FCC in a 5-0 vote.
Amazon will be investing $10 billion in the project that will see 3,236 satellites launched into low orbit and now joins Space-X’s Starlink, Facebook Athena in the race to deliver low-latency broadband internet from space.
“We have heard so many stories lately about people who are unable to do their job or complete schoolwork because they don’t have reliable internet at home,” said Dave Limp, Senior Vice President, Amazon. “There are still too many places where broadband access is unreliable or where it doesn’t exist at all. Kuiper will change that. Our $10 billion investment will create jobs and infrastructure around the United States that will help us close this gap. We appreciate the FCC’s unanimous, bipartisan support on this issue, and I want to thank Chairman Pai and the rest of the Commission for taking this important first step with us. We’re off to the races.”
As part of the agreement with the FCC Project Kuiper must provide a plan to mitigate orbital debris. This is outlined in section 30 and 31 of the agreement.
Orbital debris mitigation terms
- An applicant for a space station authorization must submit a description of the design and operational strategies that it will use to mitigate orbital debris, including a statement detailing post-mission disposal plans for space stations at the end of their operating life.67 Kuiper included an orbital debris mitigation plan in its application.68 We have reviewed Kuiper’s orbital debris mitigation plan, as supplemented.69
- Kuiper indicates that its orbital debris mitigation plan is a preliminary assessment pending the final constellation design.70 Kuiper proposes to deorbit satellites in no more than 355 days following completion of their mission, a shorter time frame than the 25-year standard established by
LEO low-latency broadband launch and completion time frame
As per the agreement, Project Kuiper has six years to have 50% of the satellites launched and operational with a completion deadline date of July 30, 2026. The other 50% of the project must be completed by July 30, 2029.
Amazon says it can start to offer services to customers once 578 of the satellites are launched and operational.
“We are doing an incredible amount of invention to deliver fast, reliable broadband at a price that makes sense for customers,” said Rajeev Badyal, Vice President of Technology for Project Kuiper. “LEO-based broadband systems like Project Kuiper present a huge number of challenges, and we have assembled a world-class team of engineers and scientists who are committed to delivering on our vision for Project Kuiper and keeping space a safe, sustainable environment for everyone. Combine that with Amazon’s deep expertise in networking and infrastructure and its ability to finance such a huge undertaking, and I am optimistic about the impact we can have for these unserved and underserved communities.”