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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.

Go deeper

Dec 1, 2021 - Science

Harris says Russia's anti-satellite test was "irresponsible"

Vice President Kamala Harris at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in November. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Russia's destructive test of an anti-satellite missile last month that created at least 1,500 pieces of space debris was "irresponsible" Vice President Kamala Harris said at the annual National Space Council meeting Wednesday.

Why it matters: Harris stressed that the test and its aftermath showed why new international behavioral norms and regulations are needed to help maintain space as a relatively safe environment.

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Philanthropy in the age of crypto

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The best charities are increasingly effective. That's the clear message sent by Open Philanthropy, the think tank that doubles as the grant-making vehicle for Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna.

Why it matters: With tech and crypto wealth becoming a fast-growing part of the philanthropic pie, there's more of an emphasis than ever on effectiveness — what the newly-divorced Melinda French Gates, in her recent Giving Pledge update, characterizes as giving as "impactfully as possible."