Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Amazon’s satellite venture, and other satellite firms have won a combined $278.5 million in contracts from NASA to demonstrate communications in space following the space agency moving to replace its current satellite network in orbit with privately-built systems.
Amazon plans on deploying more than 3,000 satellites, through a project known as Project Kuiper, through which it aims to beam broadband internet connection to remote regions.
Project Kuiper won a $67 million contract from NASA while SpaceX’s Starlink won a $70 million contract.
“The goal here is really to get industry to kick in with us and develop these capabilities for customers that are not just NASA, but other space-based customers as well, hopefully bringing down our costs,” said Eli Naffah, head of NASA’s Communications Services Project.
In a statement NASA said, “Each company is expected to complete development and demonstrations of their satellites under the contract by 2025”.
Other NASA awardees include Inmarsat , SES, Telesat and ViaSat.
Competition between SpaceX and Amazon and Telesat is fierce with each trying to win the race to provide broadband internet from space, a costly commercial endeavor that could generate billions in revenue once fully operational, said analysts.
SpaceX’s Starlink already has thousands of customers waiting in various countries despite the fact it is yet to be completed. Far behind SpaceX, Amazon aims to launch its first two prototype satellites in late 2022.
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