As part of Amazon’s Project Kuiper, three new heavy-lift rockets will launch thousands of satellites into low earth orbit over the next five years.
Using a network of 3,236 satellites, the project seeks to deliver broadband connections.
Starlink, a competitor, is believed to have more than 2,300 satellites in orbit.
Arianespace, Blue Origin, which was founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and United Launch Alliance will build the rockets.
Project Kuiper, according to Amazon, seeks to bring high-speed, low-latency broadband to clients such as households, businesses, government agencies, disaster relief operations, mobile operators, and other organisations “operating in regions where reliable internet connectivity is unavailable.”
Users will connect to the internet via a terminal that communicates with satellites, similar to Elon Musk’s Starlink.
Amazon claims that its experience delivering and manufacturing items like the Echo and Kindle will be beneficial in the development and distribution of these.
“Project Kuiper will provide fast, affordable broadband to tens of millions of customers in unserved and underserved communities around the world,” said Dave Limp, senior vice-president for Amazon Devices & Services, in a statement announcing the deal.
Over the next five years, Amazon planned 83 launches, calling it “the greatest commercial acquisition of launch vehicles in history.”
Later this year, the company planned two “prototype” missions, but they will use an ABL Space Systems rocket rather than the three that would launch the majority of the satellites.
The three new rockets utilised for Project Kuiper’s launches are still in development, unlike Elon Musk’s Falcon 9 rockets.
Following the invasion of Ukraine, another satellite internet company, OneWeb, which is partly controlled by the British government, elected to employ SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets after losing access to the Russian-built Soyuz rockets it had been utilising.
Musk hopes to deploy 30,000 Starlink satellites into space in all.
The utility of low-earth orbit satellite internet has already been proved in Ukraine, where the US Agency for International Development announced that it had assisted in the delivery of 5,000 Starlink terminals to the country’s government in collaboration with SpaceX.
However, as low-earth orbit gets more crowded, astronomers have complained that the light reflected from these satellites as they pass overhead is obstructing their view of the night sky.
“The satellites are literally killing our gorgeous night sky,” astronomer Mary McIntyre wrote on Twitter.
Concerns have also been expressed that having so many satellites in orbit increases the possibility of collision and the problem of space debris.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)