Amazon’s Kuiper Satellite Broadband takes a big step forward – despite SpaceX’s objections


Photos AleksandarGeorgiev/Getty

Amazon’s Project Kuiper has won FCC approval for its network of 3,236 satellites despite SpaceX’s claims that it would pose a collision risk with the constellation Starlink.

FCC originally approved Amazon’s Kuiper satellite plan for 2020 but considered many of the objections made by SpaceX, Viasat and others about debris and the risk of collisions with other satellite constellations.

But the FCC sided with Amazon after approving its debris reduction plan. Other issues raised include Amazon post-mission processing reliability, satellite design completion, and orbital separation.

“Our actions will allow Kuiper to begin rolling out its constellation of high-speed broadband connections to customers around the world,” The FCC said in its decision.

SpaceX in November raised concerns about Amazon’s plans to dispose of the satellites after they expire and the adequacy of the fuel Kuiper had planned for the satellite maneuvers. to avoid collision and handle.

SpaceX also wants the FCC to limit Amazon’s authorization to only certain previously approved Kuiper constellations. SpaceX wants the FCC to limit the number of Kuiper satellites to 578 — the exact number of satellites Amazon wants to have in low Earth orbit before launching the service. SpaceX also wants Amazon to delay the rollout of the rest of the constellation.

“SpaceX argues that the Commission should limit Kuiper to deploying only 578 satellites in its 630-km orbital shell and delay action on the rest of the constellation. SpaceX argues that granting this batch. will address the ability of Kuiper to co-exist with other systems in and around it 590 km and 610 km, and allow “continued monitoring” of the deployment, the FCC noted.

The FCC approval leaves nothing in the way of Amazon launching its satellite beam into non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) — except technology and a successful rocket launch.

In October, Amazon revealed it would launch its first satellites on a Vulcan Centaur rocket in early 2023, starting with two prototype satellites, but it’s been years behind SpaceX’s Starlink. Amazon originally planned to launch two prototypes on ABL Space Systems’ RS1 rocket.

The FCC said it found “Kuiper’s Orbital Debris Reduction Plan has been fully developed to support the deployment of its NGSO satellite system and Kuiper’s request acceptance, compliance with the requirements and conditions specified herein, shall serve the public interest.”

Separately, in December, FCC partial approval of SpaceX’s proposal to launch 7,500 of the second generation (Gen2) Starlink satellites operating at altitudes of 525, 530 and 535 km. The FCC notes that it only authorized SpaceX to launch 7,500 satellites to “address concerns about orbital debris and space safety.” The FCC notes that its actions slightly reduce SpaceX’s total. SpaceX’s app has faced resistance from SES Americom and O3b, Viasat, NASA and the National Science Foundation, and Amazon’s Kuiper.


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