Amazon has signed agreements with Arianespace, Blue Origin, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) to provide heavy-lift launch services for Project Kuiper, Amazon’s initiative to increase global broadband access using a constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO).
The contracts total up to 83 launches over a five-year period, providing capacity for Amazon to deploy the majority of its 3,236-satellite constellation.
Speaking about the contract, Dave Limp, Senior Vice President for Amazon Devices & Services, said: “Project Kuiper will provide fast, affordable broadband to tens of millions of customers in unserved and underserved communities around the world. We still have lots of work ahead, but the team has continued to hit milestone after milestone across every aspect of our satellite system. These launch agreements reflect our incredible commitment and belief in Project Kuiper, and we’re proud to be working with such an impressive lineup of partners to deliver on our mission.”
Project Kuiper aims to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband to a wide range of customers, including individual households, schools, hospitals, businesses, government agencies, disaster relief operations, mobile operators, and other organizations working in places without reliable internet connectivity. It will also apply Amazon’s experience producing low-cost devices and services like Echo and Kindle to deliver service at an affordable, accessible price for customers.
Rajeev Badyal, Vice President of Technology for Project Kuiper at Amazon, added: “Securing launch capacity from multiple providers has been a key part of our strategy from day one. This approach reduces the risk associated with launch vehicle stand-downs and supports competitive long-term pricing for Amazon, producing cost savings that we can pass on to our customers. These large, heavy-lift rockets also mean we can deploy more of our constellation with fewer launches, helping simplify our launch and deployment schedule. We’re excited to move one step closer to connecting residential, business, and government customers around the world.”
Suppliers from 49 US states help develop and manufacture the next-generation, heavy-lift launch vehicles from Blue Origin and ULA, while Arianespace relies on ArianeGroup’s network of suppliers from 13 European countries to produce its Ariane 6 rocket. In addition, Amazon is working with Beyond Gravity (formerly RUAG Space), a Switzerland-headquartered space technology provider, to build low-cost, scalable satellite dispensers that will help deploy the Project Kuiper constellation. Beyond Gravity is opening an all-new production facility as a result of the partnership, doubling its production capacity and creating dozens of jobs in Linköping, Sweden.
Amazon has secured 18 Ariane 6 rockets as part of this initial agreement.
Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace, stated: “This contract, the largest we’ve ever signed, is a great moment in Arianespace’s history. We are honoured to be given a significant role to play in the deployment of Amazon’s Project Kuiper, which aims to connect tens of millions of people to the internet. It will build on the European innovative spirit, industrial might, and years of experience, and it is a major win for the European launcher industry. That Amazon has chosen the Ariane 6 to do the job is a matter of tremendous pride for us and a great vote of confidence in our new launch vehicle.”
Amazon has signed an agreement with Blue Origin to secure 12 launches using New Glenn, with options for up to 15 additional launches. New Glenn is powered by seven BE-4 engines and its reusable first stage is built for a minimum of 25 missions.
Jarrett Jones, Senior Vice President, New Glenn, Blue Origin, commented: “We’re honoured to support Amazon’s ambitious mission to provide reliable, affordable broadband to unserved and underserved communities around the world through New Glenn and our BE-4 engines. New Glenn’s seven-meter fairing offers unprecedented mass and volume capabilities, providing Project Kuiper with maximum launch flexibility. We also congratulate our partner, United Launch Alliance. We’re proud to build American-made engines for ULA’s Vulcan Centaur.”
Amazon’s agreement with ULA covers 38 launches on Vulcan Centaur, ULA’s newest heavy-lift launch vehicle. This launch services contract also covers production and launch infrastructure to support a higher cadence of launches at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, including a new, dedicated version of the Vulcan Launch Platform (VLP).
Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO, noted: “This agreement marks the beginning of an exciting new era for ULA and for the entire US launch industry. With a total of 47 launches between our Atlas and Vulcan vehicles, we are proud to launch the majority of this important constellation. It will support hundreds of jobs, especially in places like Alabama, Colorado and
Project Kuiper plans to launch two prototype missions later this year on ABL Space Systems’ RS1 rocket.