The space race between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos is heating up as Amazon reveals plans to launch internet satellites that would directly compete with SpaceX’s “Starlink” service.
Amazon said it will partner with three companies to conduct up to 83 launches over a period of five years to enable “Project Kuiper”. The service will reportedly bring fast and affordable internet access to underserved communities around the world — the same goal SpaceX set for Starlink.
United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, will conduct 38 of the 83 launches; The European company Arianespace will conduct 18; and Bezos’ private space company Blue Origin will conduct at least 12, with an option for up to 15 more if needed.
“These launch agreements reflect our incredible commitment and belief in Project Kuiper, and we are proud to be working with such an impressive lineup of partners to fulfill our mission,” said Dave Limp, senior vice president of Devices and Services at Amazon .
Amazon said the partnerships would allow Project Kuiper to launch “the majority of its 3,236 satellite constellation” and described the plan as the “largest commercial launch vehicle procurement in history.” Unlike SpaceX, Project Kuiper has yet to bring satellites online.
Amazon received approval from the Federal Communications Commission in 2020 to proceed with its satellite launch plan. The company said it expects the service will help a range of customers, from individuals to schools, hospitals and government agencies.
Bezos and Musk have each made large out-of-pocket investments to fund their respective space companies.
Both SpaceX and Blue Origin have conducted low-orbit flights with civilian passengers – with the latter completing its fourth manned mission just last month. Bezos took part in Blue Origin’s first passenger mission last July — after landing, he donned a cowboy hat.
But SpaceX has carved out a significant lead in the race for affordable broadband internet. Starlink has more than 250,000 subscribers worldwide and has launched more than 1,900 satellites to facilitate the service, according to company executives and public filings.
Starlink made international headlines last month after Musk deployed the service to assist the people of Ukraine during the Russian invasion. Musk’s initial was praised by Ukrainian government officials.
Bezos and Musk have shared their various overlapping business interests for years in the press and on social media platforms. Last year, Blue Origin lost a federal lawsuit accusing NASA of wrongfully awarding SpaceX a lunar lander contract.
In March, NASA announced that it plans to reopen the lunar module contract bidding process for a second company – with Blue Origin again competing. according to CNBC.
https://nypost.com/2022/04/05/jeff-bezos-elon-musk-space-race-escalates-as-amazon-unveils-project-kuiper-plan/ Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk’s space race escalates as Amazon unveils ‘Project Kuiper’ plan