Amazon strikes deals with 3 rocket firms for Kuiper satellite launches

By Ashley Williams
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also heads the Blue Origin rocket company. File Photo courtesy of Blue Origin
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also heads the Blue Origin rocket company. File Photo courtesy of Blue Origin

April 5 (UPI) -- Amazon has struck deals with three rocket companies to launch Internet satellites, the company announced Tuesday, calling it "the largest commercial procurement of launch vehicles in history."

The tech giant has up to 83 launches planned over five years for its Project Kuiper Internet satellites. Its aim is to make high-speed, low-latency broadband service accessible across the globe.


The contracts announced Tuesday outline plans to send the satellites into Earth's low orbit with the help of three rocket companies, including at least 12 launches with its executive Chairman Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin.

The company also signed contracts for the $10 billion project with Europe-based Arianespace for 18 launches of the Ariane 6 rocket and United Launch Alliance for 38 launches of the Vulcan rocket.

"Securing launch capacity from multiple providers has been a key part of our strategy from day one," Rajeev Badyal, vice president of technology for Project Kuiper at Amazon, said in a news release. "This approach reduces 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."


New Glenn, Blue Origin's single-configuration heavy-lift rocket named after astronaut John Glenn, could launch into space an additional 15 times.

Blue Origin will also power the Vulcan rocket with the BE-4 engine it's building, which will mean Bezos' engines will power 78 percent of Amazon's launches in the deal.

Amazon's direct satellite competitor, SpaceX, is notably absent from the deal as Amazon continues to compete with the Elon Musk-owned spaceflight company's Starlink broadband system.

Blue Origin announced last year it will hold off New Glenn's rocket launch until late 2022, depending on the progress of developing its BE-4 engines.

The Federal Communications Commission's rules require Amazon to have deployed around 1,600, or half, of its satellites by July 2026.

Latest Headlines