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Amazon Pushes the First Full Kuiper Launch to Q4 

By Rachel Jewett | June 27, 2024

      The Atlas V on the launch pad ahead of the Kuiper launch in October 2023. Photo: ULA

      Amazon is pushing back the first full launch for its Project Kuiper constellation to the fourth quarter of 2024, the company announced Thursday. Amazon previously said it would start launching the constellation in the first half of this year and to start customer pilots this year as well. 

      Amazon said the timeline of customer pilots is pushed back, but confirmed that it remains on track to meet the previously stated target of offering service to customers in 2025. Amazon expects to ship the first completed production satellites this summer and the first full-scale Kuiper mission will use a ULA Atlas V rocket.

      “We will continue to increase our rates of satellite production and deployment heading into 2025, and we remain on track to begin offering service to customers next year,” Amazon said in a June 27 blog post. 

      Amazon faces an FCC deadline to have half of the 3,232-satellite constellation launched by July 2026.

      The company has been ramping up satellite production at its new satellite production and testing in Kirkland, Washington, which opened in April. This facility is designed to build up to five satellites per day at peak capacity. 

      “Building advanced communications satellites at this scale is incredibly complex, and we want to ensure every Kuiper spacecraft meets our standards for performance, reliability, and safety,” Steve Metayer, Project Kuiper’s vice president of production operations said in a Thursday announcement. “The progress from the team is so impressive, and we now have the foundational pieces in place to ramp production ahead of a full-scale deployment. We can’t wait to get service to our customers as soon as possible.”

      ULA launched the first two Kuiper prototype satellites last year. These satellites demonstrated two-way video calls and data transfers via the onboard optical inter-satellite links. Last month, Amazon announced it would begin the process to deorbit those two satellites, just eight months after they were launched. 

      Kuiper will provide broadband access via satellite in areas with little to no broadband access. It will be a competitor to Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) constellations Starlink and OneWeb.

      Editor’s note: The story had been adjusted to clarify that Amazon remains on target to offer service to customers in 2025