by Jonna Lorenz
Washington DC (UPI) Nov 16, 2021
Initial testing of Amazon's Project Kuiper was successful, putting the project on track to begin offering high-speed Internet to select customers next year, the company announced Thursday.
The Protoflight mission launched from Cape Canaveral on Oct. 6, with two test satellites, Kuipersat-1 and Kuipersat-2. The company aims to install 3,236 satellites into low Earth orbit by the end of 2026 to provide broadband to areas with little or no Internet access.
Members of Project Kuiper's Payload Integration and Testing team established connection with the two prototype satellites and conducted a series of demonstrations to test the technology. These included logging onto Amazon Prime and completing a purchase, streaming an Amazon Original movie as ultra-high definition 4K video and conducting the first two-way video call over Amazon Chime.
"Every major system and subsystem on board the two prototypes -- from flight computers and solar arrays to our propulsion system and advanced radio frequency (RF) communications payload -- demonstrated nominal or better performance following launch," Amazon said on its website.
The team worked in contact windows ranging from 30 to 120 seconds as the two prototype satellites passed over the test site. Project Kuiper plans a constellation of thousands of satellites to provide seamless connectivity.
Full-scale deployment is on track to begin in the first half of 2024, with beta testing with select customers later in the year.
"Kuiper was an idea on a piece of paper a few years ago, and everything we've learned so far from our Protoflight mission validates our original vision and architecture," Rajeev Badyal, vice president of technology for Project Kuiper, said.
"We still have a lot of hard work ahead, and scaling for mass production won't be easy. To get these results on your very first mission, though -- and so quickly after launch -- is an incredible feat, and it's only possible because of the expertise and dedication of our team here at Amazon."
Testing will continue in coming months to assess the technology under different conditions.
Elon Musk's SpaceX is working on a similar effort to expand Internet connectivity. The company marked its 80th launch of 2023 on Nov. 8, when its Falcon 9 rocket lifted 23 Starlink satellites into space.