Amazon recently purchased three rocket launches from SpaceX for its Project Kuiper internet satellites. This might be unexpected, as Amazon’s Kuiper system is in direct competition with Elon Musk’s Starlink in the satellite broadband market.
Both Starlink and Kuiper are huge projects with the goal of creating networks using thousands of satellites in space to provide services to a wide range of customers, from regular consumers to governments.
Amazon’s Rocket Orders
Before, Amazon placed a significant order for rocket launches from three of SpaceX’s main competitors, including Blue Origin, which is owned by Jeff Bezos. This decision faced criticism in a shareholder lawsuit against Amazon earlier this year. The lawsuit claimed that Bezos’ rivalry with fellow billionaire Musk influenced the choice to ignore SpaceX.
It’s important to note that although Bezos founded both Amazon and Blue Origin, these are distinct companies.
SpaceX, which is the busiest rocket operator globally, has consistently expressed its commitment to launching satellites that compete with Starlink using its rockets. The company has a history of launching broadband satellites for various companies and has agreements for future launches.
Amazon’s Plans in Space, Deal with SpaceX
In the recent announcement on Friday, Amazon revealed that it had secured a deal with SpaceX for three Falcon 9 launches scheduled for mid-2025. However, the specific financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.
The agreement with SpaceX is the latest change in Amazon’s strategy as it works to launch its Kuiper satellites on time to comply with federal regulations. The Federal Communications Commission requires Amazon to have half of its planned 3,236 satellites in orbit by July 2026.
Amazon has placed orders for more than 77 launches from Blue Origin, United Launch Alliance, Arianespace, and ABL. However, delays in the development of those rockets have prompted Amazon to modify its launch plans in the past. The company switched the rocket for its first pair of Kuiper prototypes twice to speed up development before the mission finally launched in October.
Last month, Amazon announced that the testing of the Kuiper prototypes was successful. The company is now gearing up to start producing commercial satellites for launches in the coming year.
To build Kuiper, Amazon plans to invest over $10 billion. Earlier this year, the company initiated the construction of a pre-launch processing facility in Florida, with a budget of $120 million.
Amazon’s recent acquisition of three SpaceX rocket launches for Project Kuiper highlights its unexpected collaboration amid competition with Elon Musk’s Starlink. Both projects aim to deploy extensive satellite networks, serving diverse customers. Amazon’s broader space strategy includes diverse rocket orders, strategic SpaceX deals, and substantial investments in Kuiper’s development and production facilities.