Amazon has confirmed that its two prototype satellites for the Kuiper broadband service are operating as planned in orbit. The demo-spacecraft have successfully maneuvered using their purpose-built electric propulsion systems, which are crucial for positioning and maintaining the satellites in orbit.
According to Amazon’s status report, a recent series of test firings provided valuable on-orbit data, further validating the satellite design. Each test yielded results consistent with the design requirements.
Project Kuiper, Amazon’s satellite broadband initiative, has been granted a license to deploy a total of 3,236 satellites for its service, competing against Elon Musk’s Starlink system. However, at least half of the proposed fleet must be in orbit by mid-2026.
The two demo craft, launched on October 6th, were intended to evaluate the onboard hardware and the links between the satellites and ground stations on Earth. The first fully operational satellites are scheduled for launch in early 2024, and a beta service for selected enterprise customers could begin by the end of next year.
Rajeev Badyal, Project Kuiper’s vice president of technology, emphasized the importance of space safety and sustainability for the project. The propulsion system, one of the first systems developed and tested in the lab, played a crucial role in the successful maneuvering of the prototype satellites. These positive results have further strengthened the confidence in Amazon’s plans to deploy and operate the satellite constellation for the Kuiper broadband service.