Miami, Oct 6 (EFE).- Two prototypes of Amazon’s Internet satellite constellation took off Friday from Florida (US) aboard a rocket of the United Launch Alliance (ULA).
At the scheduled time, 2:06 pm local time and under a clear sky, a ULA Atlas V 501 rocket successfully lifted off from a platform at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, with the two prototypes on its summit and heading for the so-called low Earth orbit (LEO).
About 3.5 minutes after liftoff, the rocket passed through the Earth’s atmosphere. It reached space, where shortly after that, the first stage shut down its engines and separated from the second stage, called Centaur, which is three meters in diameter.
The two satellites, called KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2, which traveled inside a 5-meter-diameter cap, are two prototypes of the final design for the constellation of more than 3,200 satellites that will make up Amazon’s Kuiper project, which will provide broadband Internet worldwide.
The satellites launched on Friday, once placed in orbit, will remain at an inclination of 30 degrees and about 500 kilometers from the Earth’s surface, will not form a long-term part of this satellite network, which will begin to be sent from the second half of 2024 and over six years.
For the development of the Kuiper project, which has an initial investment of $10 billion, Amazon has contracted three aerospace firms responsible for 92 launches over the next five years.
Of that total, 47 will be carried out by ULA: nine with the Atlas V and 38 with the Vulcan Centaur, the new range of rockets the company plans to launch towards the end of this year.
The other two firms responsible for the remaining launches are the European consortium Arianespace, which will be in charge of 18 deliveries, and Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and responsible for the remainder.
Amazon’s plan to create a network of satellites to provide internet to Earth is similar to another led by SpaceX, founded by the CEO of electric car manufacturer Tesla, Elon Musk.
Toward that end, Amazon recently invested $120 million to build a satellite processing facility on leased land at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and another 16,000 square meter facility in Kirkland, Washington state. EFE