Amazon has taken a significant step towards competing in the satellite internet service industry by launching its first set of test satellites. This move is aimed at challenging Elon Musk’s Starlink, which already offers global internet coverage.
On Friday, Amazon’s satellites were sent into space using an Atlas V rocket, designed by Lockheed Martin and operated by the United Launch Alliance—a partnership between Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The tech giant has ambitious plans to send up to 80 satellites into orbit each month, as it seeks to compete with satellite-based internet providers like SpaceX and OneWeb.
To support its satellite production, Amazon is gearing up for mass production of its Kuiper satellites at a substantial 172,000 square foot factory located in Kirkland, Washington. Additionally, the state of Florida, under the leadership of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, has announced plans to establish a 100,000 square foot satellite processing facility for Amazon’s Kuiper satellites at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
However, Amazon faces a considerable challenge in catching up to SpaceX’s Starlink program, which currently operates over 4,000 satellites and serves more than 1.5 million subscribers. OneWeb, another major player in the satellite internet industry, maintains a sizable fleet of over 600 satellites.
The rivalry between Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and SpaceX’s Elon Musk, often referred to as the “billionaire space race,” has been a hot topic in the space sector. This competition has even resulted in legal battles, such as Bezos’s Blue Origin suing NASA over the agency’s decision to award a lunar landing vehicle contract to Musk’s SpaceX.