Amazon.com has revealed plans to launch its first internet satellites to space in the first half of 2024 and offer initial commercial tests shortly after.
Satellite communications market is expected to reach $83.25 billion by 2028 from $38.98 billion in 2021, at a CAGR of 11.45 percent over the forecast period (2022 – 2028).
Amazon will compete with Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which has made significant business in the recent months, and others to provide broadband internet globally. SpaceX’s Starlink network already has roughly 4,000 satellites in space.
Amazon’s satellite internet unit, Project Kuiper, will begin mass-producing the satellites later this year. Those will be the first of over 3,000 satellites the technology giant plans to launch in low-Earth orbit in the next few years.
“We’ll be beta testing with commercial customers in 2024,” Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon devices, said at a conference in Washington.
The 2024 deployment target would keep Amazon on track to fulfill a regulatory mandate to launch half its entire Kuiper network of 3,236 satellites by 2026. Dave Limp, who oversees Amazon’s consumer devices business, said the e-commerce company plans to make three to five satellites a day to reach that goal.
Amazon earlier revealed its plans to invest more than $10 billion into the Kuiper network. Amazon sees its experience producing millions of devices from its consumer electronics powerhouse as an edge over rival SpaceX.
Amazon plans to launch a pair of prototype satellites early this year aboard a new rocket from the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance. The 2024 launch, carrying the initial production satellites, is expected to be the first of many more in a swift deployment campaign using rockets Amazon procured in 2021 and 2022.
The company on Tuesday revealed a slate of three different terminals, or antennas, that will connect customers with its Kuiper satellites in orbit.
The standard customer terminal, 11-inch square antennas, will cost the company less than $400 each to produce and provide internet speeds of 400 megabits per second for customers, Amazon said in a statement.
SpaceX’s consumer Starlink terminals, priced at $599 each, as well as other bespoke terminals for governments and businesses, are being used by more than a million customers to date, Jonathan Hofeller, SpaceX’s head of Starlink enterprise sales, said Monday.
A smaller, square-shaped mobile antenna, measuring 7 inches wide and weighing one pound, will be Amazon’s most affordable terminal for the network. The company did not disclose the price.
Amazon’s largest antenna model, designed for enterprise, government and telecommunications applications, will be 19 by 30 inches in size and put out internet speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second – fast enough to download a high-definition feature-length movie in roughly 30 seconds.