The first online satellites, Amazon Kuiper, will be launched on the ULA Vulcan missile in early 2023

The first online satellites, Amazon Kuiper, will be launched on the ULA Vulcan missile in early 2023

At the beginning of next year, the first two Amazon Kuiper communications satellites will go into orbit and compete with SpaceX Starlink. The new Vulcan rocket is the responsibility of the joint venture Boeing and Lockheed Martin — United Launch Alliance.

Today, Amazon is authorized by the United States Federal Communications Commission to launch 3,236 satellites designed to connect people who do not have access to broadband. The Kuiper project is seen as an alternative to Starlink. The company has pledged to invest more than $10 billion in a system that will provide quality connectivity not only to individual clients, but also to schools, hospitals and businesses that do not have reliable Internet communications. According to recent data, 1,000 people are currently working on the Amazon project. In order to fulfil the obligations under the FCC licence, Amazon is expected to bring into operation half of the group by 2026.

Starlink Ilona Maska, meanwhile, already has a constellation of more than 3,100 satellites in orbit, providing Internet clients from more than 30 countries with an additional tens of thousands in line. In August, Mask announced that, together with T-Mobile, he would connect satellites with conventional smartphones almost anywhere on the planet. Although SpaceX was the first, Amazon believed that the Internet service market was large enough to accommodate other companies of this type.

ULA had for years launched satellites on behalf of the Pentagon and American security agencies, and a partnership with Amazon would allow the company to enter a commercial launch market dominated by SpaceX. The company was developing a new generation, Vulcan, designed to replace the Atlas-V, which used Russian-made engines. The "Premier" Vulcan had been postponed several times, largely due to problems with the BE-4 engine being developed by Blue Origin. Despite a number of failures, ULA reported significant progress and planned the first launch of the missile in the first quarter of the following year.

The main load on the first flight will be the robotic module Peregrine, which is expected to land on the Moon at the NASA mission, and Amazon satellites will be launched into low-Earth orbit long before the start of the main phase of the mission.

Vulcan is regarded by American military and intelligence services as the main "working horse" that will launch for the force block from the end of 2023, but before that, the missile must prove its reliability twice by performing tasks for other clients.