Update: Tuesday, October 10, 9:12 a.m. ET: United Launch Alliance launched the first two prototype satellites, KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2, on an Atlas V rocket on October 06, 2023.
Original article follows.
Amazon is finally getting ready to launch its Project Kuiper prototype satellites following multiple delays and rocket troubles.
The two satellites will launch on board United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas 5 rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Liftoff will take place on Friday during a two-hour launch window that opens at 2:00 p.m. ET. ULA will broadcast the launch live through its website, and you can also tune in to the action through the live feed below. Coverage will begin at 1:40 p.m. ET. Forecasters are predicting a 70% chance of favorable weather conditions at Cape Canaveral.
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.
Related article: Amazon Prepares to Challenge SpaceX’s Starlink With Maiden Satellite Launch
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.
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