Amazon will launch two Project Kuiper test satellites into space on Friday, October 6th. The pair of satellites — dubbed KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2 — will shoot into space aboard the United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V rocket as part of Amazon’s internet satellite initiative.
The launch will take from the Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, with the two-hour launch window opening at 2PM ET. According to the Project Kuiper team, the Atlas V rocket will deploy the two satellites at an altitude of 311 miles, where they’ll enter low-earth orbit.
From there, the Project Kuiper team will perform various tests to establish first contact with the satellites, as well as deploy solar arrays to generate power. Once the satellite system is connected to the internet, the team will attempt to send information between the satellites and a customer terminal here on Earth. Amazon says it will “actively deorbit” the satellites at the end of the mission, letting them burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.
“We’ve done extensive testing here in our lab and have a high degree of confidence in our satellite design, but there’s no substitute for on-orbit testing,” Rajeev Badyal, Project Kuiper’s vice president of technology, says in a statement. “This is Amazon’s first time putting satellites into space, and we’re going to learn an incredible amount regardless of how the mission unfolds.”
Despite this setback, Amazon says its first production satellites could still launch in the first half of 2024, with beta testing starting at the end of 2024. The company eventually aims to have a constellation of over 3,200 in low Earth orbit, putting it on a path to compete with Elon Musk’s Starlink, which currently has over 4,000 satellites in space.