The company’s “standard” client terminal, in the middle of Project Kuiper’s trio of satellite antennas measuring less than 11 square inches and weighing less than five pounds.
WASHINGTON– Amazon a trio of satellite dishes revealed on Tuesday, as the company prepares to take on SpaceX’s Starlink with its own Project Kuiper internet network.
The tech giant said the “standard” version of the satellite dish, also known as a client terminal, should cost Amazon less than $400 to produce.
“Every technology and business decision we’ve made has focused on what will provide the best experience for different customers around the world, and our lineup of customer terminals reflects those choices,” said Rajeev Badyal, vice president of Amazon technology for Project Kuiper. in a report.
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Project Kuiper is Amazon’s plan to build a network of 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit to provide high-speed Internet access anywhere in the world. The Federal Communications Commission in 2020 licensed Amazon’s system, which the company said it would “invest more than $10 billion” to build.
The “ultra-compact” version of the Project Kuiper
The “standard” design measures less than 11 inches square and 1 inch thick, and weighs less than 5 pounds. Amazon says the device will offer customers speeds “up to 400 megabits per second (Mbps)”.
An “ultra-compact” model, which Amazon says is the smallest and most affordable, is a 7-inch square model that weighs around 1 pound and will deliver speeds of up to 100Mbps. In addition to residential customers, Amazon plans to offer the antenna to government and enterprise customers for services such as “land mobility and the Internet of Things.”
Amazon senior vice president of devices and services Dave Limp declined to say how much it costs to make each ultra-compact antenna, but told CNBC it’s “materially cheaper” to make than the standard model.
Its largest “pro” model, at 19 inches by 30 inches, represents a high-speed version for the most demanding customers. Amazon says this antenna will be able to “deliver speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps)” through space. Badyal told CNBC that there are a variety of corporate and government applications for the professional series, such as “oil rigs in the middle of the ocean” or “ships that want lots of bandwidth.” , such as military ships.
The company’s “Pro” client terminal, the largest of Project Kuiper’s trio of satellite antennas at 19 inches by 30 inches.
Amazon has yet to say what it expects the monthly service cost for Project Kuiper customers to be.
Showing his antennae to early customers, Limp said he saw them “excited” about the range.
“They’re surprised at the price, surprised at the performance for the size, and [the antennas] are solid state so there are no motors,” Limp told CNBC.
Amazon said it plans to start mass-producing commercial satellites by the end of this year. Limp told CNBC that once Amazon’s manufacturing facility is fully built, the company plans to manufacture up to “three to five satellites a day at full scale.”
“We’re going to increase that volume,” Limp said.
Amazon’s demand for rocket launches
The company’s first two prototype satellites are set to launch on the first mission of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket, scheduled for May.
Badyal told CNBC that Amazon expects to make “minor adjustments” from the prototypes to the retail version, as the satellites are “almost identical” but represent the first time much of the company’s hardware has flown. in the space.
The company’s Project Kuiper prototype satellites are being shipped for launch.
While Amazon has yet to show off its satellites or reveal many details, Limp noted that the Kuiper spacecraft have “larger mass” than SpaceX’s first-generation Starlink satellites, with Amazon aiming for “Goldilocks sizing.” “. And Amazon expects the performance of its Kuiper satellites to “significantly outperform” Starlink, with expected performance processing up to 1 terabit per second (Tbps) of traffic. The satellites are expected to have a life in space of around seven years, before needing to be replaced.
Production satellite launches are expected to begin in the first half of 2024, with initial service scheduled for once the company has a few hundred satellites in orbit, Limp noted.
Last year, Amazon announced the biggest corporate rocket contract in industry history and booked 77 launches — contracts that include additional options as needed — from various companies to deploy the satellites. fast enough to meet regulatory requirements.
Limp said the launches mean Amazon has “enough to get the vast majority of the constellation up” in space.
“I don’t think you’ve ever finished thinking about launch capacity, but we’re pretty happy with what we have in order books,” Limp added. “If new vehicles come online that are more competitive, we will look into that.”
Notably, Amazon has not purchased launches from SpaceX, the most active US rocket launcher. Instead, Amazon has tapped into a variety of competitors, buying rides largely on rocketships that have yet to debut.
“I have no religious problem with not buying capacity from SpaceX, it’s a very reliable rocket, but economically the Falcon 9 was not the best rocket for us,” Limp explained.
When asked if Amazon would consider owning a rocket system to support its launches, Limp said, “I would never say never to a question like that” but that the company is looking for acquisitions in areas “where you can have something that stands out and that’s something where it’s not served well.”
Limp noted that this was a different scenario than something like “Prime Air”, the company’s cargo airline, as it was a situation where e-commerce growth forecasts of the company were higher than the shipping providers like FedEx, UPS or USPS thought.
“We were just using a lot of the excess capacity…it wasn’t until it stopped being well served that we looked at it,” Limp said. “There was a shift in that it was well served for our purposes. At the moment, I don’t see that from a rocket perspective. There’s a lot of launch there.”
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