TAMPA, Fla. — Amazon plans to deploy its first pair of Project Kuiper prototypes this fall on an Atlas 5 from United Launch Alliance (ULA), the internet giant said Aug. 7 after switching rockets a second time to avoid mounting delays.
The test satellites were slated to fly on the debut launch of ULA’s Vulcan Centaur, which was recently pushed to the fourth quarter following its latest delay.
Amazon had initially planned to deploy KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2 by late last year with ABL Space Systems, before the rocket developer’s RS1 vehicle also suffered setbacks.
The Project Kuiper prototypes could launch as soon as Sept. 26 on a dedicated Atlas 5, according to a Reuters report citing Amazon spokesperson James Watkins.
Amazon has nine Atlas 5 and 38 Vulcan rockets on order from ULA as part of the multibillion-dollar launch contracts it has secured for Project Kuiper, including other vehicles under development by Arianespace and Blue Origin.
The company plans to start launching commercial satellites next year amid impending regulatory deadlines for its proposed 3,236-strong low Earth orbit broadband constellation.
Half the constellation must be deployed by July 2026 under rules tied to its Federal Communications Commission license, and the rest three years later.
Amazon expects to open a 31,000-square-meter satellite processing facility in early 2025 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida, to help ramp up deployment.
The company has secured up to 92 launches in total from ULA, Arianespace, and Blue Origin.