Amazon broadband project ready to blast off

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — Amazon has deals with three rocket companies to help launch communications satellites that the online retail giant says will help provide fast, affordable broadband to millions of underserved people around the world.

Seattle-based Amazon said Tuesday that Arianespace, United Launch Alliance and Blue Origin will combine for up to 83 launches during the next five years, deploying the majority of Amazon’s 3,236 low-earth satellites to be used for what Amazon is calling “Project Kuiper.”

No financial details were given.

Amazon and Blue Origin were both founded by Jeff Bezos, who blasted into space on a Blue Origin rocket last summer. Blue Origin signed on for 12 launches, with options for up to 15 more.

Arianespace is the European space consortium that launched NASA’s $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope in December. Amazon contracted for 18 launches of its new Ariane 6 rocket that will put satellites into orbit.

Arianespace hailed the deal as its largest ever, although it didn’t give a monetary value.

“That Amazon has chosen the Ariane 6 to do the job is a matter of tremendous pride for us and a great vote of confidence for our new launch vehicle. This day marks a decisive success for the Ariane 6 program,” said Stephane Israël, CEO of Arianespace.

Amazon contracted for 38 launches with Colorado-based United Launch Alliance.

Amazon has 1,000 employees working on Project Kuiper, which it says, once deployed, will be able to serve tens of millions of residential, business, and government customers in places without dependable broadband.

More about: