Nov 1, 2021 - Technology

Amazon seeks FCC approval for prototype satellites

Illustration of a satellite

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Amazon on Monday announced plans to launch prototype satellites for its proposed satellite broadband network.

Why it matters: The plans bring Amazon one step closer to building a satellite constellation to provide internet connectivity around the world, rivaling the SpaceX's Starlink service.

Driving the news: Amazon sought permission from the Federal Communications Commission to launch, deploy and operate two prototype satellites for its Project Kuiper constellation.

  • The prototypes will be used to test the technology Amazon wants to use in its final satellite design, the company said.
  • Amazon reached an agreement with ABL Space Systems to launch the satellites using its RS1 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida by the end of 2022.
  • ABL is preparing for its first RS1 launch before the end of the year from Kodiak Island, Alaska, with its launch period ending Dec. 15, according to a Space News report.

What they're saying: "There is no substitute for on-orbit testing, and we expect to learn a lot given the complexity and risk of operating in such a challenging environment," Rajeev Badyal, vice president of technology for Project Kuiper, said in a statement.

Yes, but: Amazon is behind SpaceX in deployment, with Starlink satellites already providing internet service to customers.

The big picture: Amazon and SpaceX have sparred before the FCC, which gives regulatory approval for communications networks, as they seek to carve out positions for their competing satellite internet infrastructure systems.

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