(Pocket-lint) – Amazon is about to launch its first two prototype satellites for Project Kuiper – but only as part of a test.
The company – much like SpaceX’s Starlink and other ambitious tech firms – has been working on a satellite-internet project. Its version, Project Kuiper, will eventually consist of over 3,000 satellites – all assembled in a low-Earth orbit constellation and beaming low-latency broadband internet coverage.
Project Kuiper aims to launch its first two prototype satellites by the end of 2022 – or by the fourth quarter, specifically. Amazon has even filed a “Request for Experimental Authorization” launch license with the US Federal Communications Commission for two prototypes: The KuiperSat-1 and the KuiperSat-2.
Currently, Project Kuiper’s two prototype satellites are set to launch via a new rocket, called the RS1, that’s made by California startup ABL Space Systems.
The goal is to provide rural communities and other areas with internet services. Starlink, SpaceX’s broadband internet satellite constellation, has the same purpose; it’s sending nearly 12,000 into low orbit around Earth and has actually launched more than 1,700. It even has a beta program for users.
Amazon, therefore, has a lot of catching up to do. Its first two prototypes will operate at 366 miles above Earth. They feature antennas, modems, power, and propulsion. In space, they will attempt to connect with four of Kuiper’s user terminals and a ground station in Texas that can send and receive broadband signals. Kuiper has already completed some testing on the ground with its terminals, claiming to hit maximum throughput speeds of up to 400Mbps.
For reference, Starlink’s beta program claims download speeds up to 100Mbps and 200Mbps.
It’s worth noting some astronomers have been complaining recently that these types of satellite constellations could disrupt observations of the night sky. So, to help offset that, Amazon said it’s been “working with astronomers and others in the industry to reduce the visibility of Kuiper System satellites”.
It’s even including a sunshade on one of the prototype satellites to dampen its ability to reflect light from the Sun.
Writing by Maggie Tillman. Originally published on .