New York (The Verge) — FCC approves Amazon’s internet-from-space Kuiper constellation of 3,236 satellites theverge.com/2020/7/30/2134….
On July 30th, the Federal Communications Commission approved Amazon’s plan to launch 3,236 satellites into orbit, part of the company’s Kuiper project designed to beam internet connectivity to Earth.
The company plans to send the satellites to three different altitudes, and it claims it needs just 578 satellites in orbit to begin service, according to an FCC document announcing the approval. Amazon said it will invest “more than $10 billion” in Project Kuiper in a blog post.
There are few caveats to Amazon’s FCC approval. The company must launch half of the constellation by 2026 to retain its FCC license, and then the remaining satellites by 2029. Amazon also must submit to the FCC a finalized plan for how it will mitigate orbital debris, since the design of its satellites aren’t finalized yet. Amazon claims it will take its satellites out of orbit within 355 days, but the FCC argues the company didn’t “present specific information concerning some required elements” for its debris plan. A big concern of a constellation of this size is that the influx of satellites will lead to more collisions in space, creating pieces of debris that could threaten other satellites.
Amazon claims that Kuiper will “provide broadband services to unserved and underserved consumers, businesses in the United States, and global customers by employing advanced satellite and earth station technologies,” according to the FCC’s approval document. Amazon also said that Project Kuiper will provide “backhaul solutions for wireless carriers extending LTE and 5G service to new regions” in its blog post. — Loren Grush/@verge