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ULA Targets Oct. 6 Launch Date for Amazon Kuiper Prototypes 

By Rachel Jewett | September 29, 2023

      Amazons’ encapsulated payload arriving at ULA’s integration facility. Photo: ULA

      United Launch Alliance (ULA) set an Oct. 6 launch date for Amazon’s Project Kuiper prototype satellites. The encapsulated payload arrived at ULA’s integration facility at Cape Canaveral on Thursday. 

      The two prototype satellites will launch on an Atlas 5 rocket. The launch window opens at 2 p.m. EDT on Oct. 6. Describing the mission, ULA said Atlas V will place two spacecraft — in 500 km orbits with an inclination of 30 degrees. The satellites will be deployed approximately 18 minutes after liftoff. 

      The mission is a major milestone for Amazon’s Kuiper constellation as it will put its first satellites into orbit. These satellites will allow Amazon to test the satellite technology ahead of a full-scale satellite deployment beginning next year. 

      The satellites, Kuipersat-1 and Kuipersat-2 have had a front-row seat to delays in the launch market and have moved mission manifests a few times. They were originally set to launch on an ABL Space Systems RS1 rocket, but the rocket has not been proven yet. They were also moved off the manifest for the first Vulcan Centaur mission when the rocket’s debut slipped to the fourth quarter of this year. 

      Amazon has a large launch deal with ULA to launch the Kuiper constellation, including nine Atlas V missions and 38 launches on the Vulcan Centaur rocket

      Separately, Blue Origin announced this week that Project Kuiper’s lead executive Dave Limp, Amazon’s senior vice president for Devices and Services, is leaving Amazon to join the rocket company to replace CEO Doug Smith.