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Beta Project Kuiper broadband services pushed to early 2025

Initial Project Kuiper broadband services have slipped into 2025, Amazon said June 27 amid plans to launch its first batch of production satellites on an Atlas V rocket in the last three months of this year.

Amazon had earlier aimed to start deploying more than 3,200 satellites in the first half of 2024 to begin beta trials with potential customers, including Verizon in the United States.

However, the company now expects to ship the first production satellites this summer to Florida for the launch with United Launch Alliance from its recently opened factory in Kirkland, Washington.

Amazon has bought eight Atlas Vs from ULA, and 38 of its next-generation Vulcan Centaur rockets, for deploying the constellation in low Earth orbit.

ULA used an Atlas V in October to launch two Project Kuiper prototype satellites, which have since successfully completed end-to-end tests.

Project Kuiper’s multibillion-dollar launch roster also includes 18 Ariane 6 rockets from Arianespace, up to 27 New Glenn missions from Blue Origin — owned by Amazon’s billionaire founder Jeff Bezos — and three SpaceX Falcon 9 vehicles slated to fly from mid-2025.

Ariane 6 and New Glenn are still awaiting their maiden flights, and Vulcan has only flown once.

ULA is due to fly an inert payload and instrumentation in September on what would be the second Vulcan Centaur launch.

With Vulcan booked for two national security missions by the end of the year, the next launch planned for late in the first quarter of 2025 is for a payload ULA has not disclosed.

Amazon declined to comment on its launch plan but said each mission would carry dozens of satellites.

Factory ramp up
Amazon officially opened its 52,000 square-meter Kirkland manufacturing hub in April, where satellite parts would arrive following a stop at a recently established logistics center in nearby Everett.

According to Amazon, the factory would be able to churn out up to five satellites per day at peak capacity. The company said its nearby research and development facility in Redmond also helps facilitate close collaboration between design and production teams.

Most satellites would be sent to a processing facility Amazon is setting up this year at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, for dispenser and rocket integration. Satellites slated to launch onboard Ariane 6 would be sent to Arianespace’s launchpad at the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana.

“Building advanced communications satellites at this scale is incredibly complex, Project Kuiper vice president of production operations Steve Metayer said in a statement, “and we want to ensure every Kuiper spacecraft meets our standards for performance, reliability, and safety.”

Amazon expects to significantly increase satellite production and launch rates next year as it nears a July 2026 regulatory deadline for deploying half the constellation. Under the terms of its Federal Communication Commission license, the remaining satellites must be deployed three years later.

The company said it has so far hired 120 of the 200 high-skilled manufacturing employees needed to operate its Kirkland facility. The Lake Washington Institute of Technology is also developing a new satellite manufacturing certification program to help cultivate local talent. Space News

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