United Launch Alliance launched the first two prototype satellites, KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2, on an Atlas V rocket on October 6, 2023.
The Atlas 5 rocket will place Kuipersat-1 and Kuipersat-2 in 311 mile (500 kilometer) orbits with an inclination of 30 degrees, according to ULA. Amazon awarded three contracts worth around $1.7 billion to Blue Origin, Arianespace, and ULA to launch most of its 3,236-satellite constellation to low Earth orbit.
ULA had originally planned to use its Vulcan Centaur rocket to launch the Project Kuiper satellites to low Earth orbit, but the launch vehicle’s debut has been delayed. Instead, ULA opted to use its Atlas 5 rocket to launch the two prototype satellites. Amazon’s license with the Federal Communications Commission stipulates that it must launch half of Project Kuiper by 2026. Amazon seeks to meet that target and deploy the entire 3,236-satellite constellation by 2029.
If the first mission is successful, Amazon will then launch more satellites to form the megaconstellation across 46 launches, using both Atlas V and Vulcan Centaurs, in addition to launch vehicles provided by Arianespace and Blue Origin. Similar to SpaceX’s Starlink, Amazon’s upcoming Project Kuiper aims to provide fast and affordable broadband internet access to regions around the world. Gizmodo