Amazon Project Kuiper – development, numbers and criticism

It's no secret that the Amazon group and, above all, its founder Jeff Bezos are involved in the space industry. The company Blue Origin, founded by Bezos, has been in existence since September 2000 and deals with space travel. It became known in 2019 that another company, which emerged from Amazon, also wants to bring thousands of satellites into different earth orbits for the Internet supply of large parts of the world. Similar to Starlink from Elon Musk's SpaceX, which is already circling the earth and enabling Internet from space, the Kuiper project from Amazon's Kuiper Systems LLC is supposed to work - and just litter the earth's orbits.

Amazon Projekt Kuiper, SpaceX Starlink, OneWeb and more – Internet from orbit, space debris and war above the earth are being driven by the private sector and individual billionaires.
Amazon Projekt Kuiper, SpaceX Starlink, OneWeb and more – Internet from orbit, space debris and war above the earth are being driven by the private sector and individual billionaires.

In a nutshell: What is Project Kuiper?

  • A project by Kuiper Systems LLC, an Amazon subsidiary
  • The company's top management consists of former SpaceX managers who were fired by Elon Musk in 2018 because the company's development was progressing too slowly
  • The project did not become known in 2019 through direct efforts by the company, but because some mandatory publications had to be made for the use of the radio frequencies to be used
  • In the future, a total of 3.236 satellites will be divided into three orbits (590 km, 610 km and 630 km altitude) around the earth
  • The aim is to cover an area from latitude 56° north to latitude 56° south, which should correspond to an area that covers 95% of the world's population
  • In addition to the satellites, a network of ground stations called "Gateway Earth Stations" is required
  • The radio license terms state that half of the satellites must be deployed by 2026 and the rest must be active by 2029


How do 3.236 satellites get into orbit?

According to current information, 784 satellites are to be placed at an altitude of 590 km. A further 1.296 satellites are to orbit at an altitude of 610 km above the earth. And the third group of a total of 1.156 satellites is said to be cavorting at an altitude of 630 km. But how did they all get up there? As in one Article As shown by Ars Technica in April 2022, three space companies with a total of 68 to 83 flights are to take over the transport. Under the (translated) heading "Jeff Bezos and Amazon just hired everyone but SpaceX for Project Kuiper" is the following synopsis:

  • 6 launches are planned for Arianespace's Ariane 18 rocket
  • Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket is scheduled for 12 launches (with an option for 15 more)
  • 38 launches are planned with the Vulcan rocket from the United Launch Alliance

A competition with unknown participants

Anyone who now thinks that the Internet satellites of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are simply a matter of continuing their space race, which has already been held with Blue Origin and SpaceX flights, is not thinking capitalistically enough. Of course there are other companies that want to secure a place in orbit and profit from the gigantic market of worldwide Internet coverage. An example of this would be OneWeb, a company founded in 2012 that placed its first satellites in 2019. More followed in 2020, after which insolvency proceedings were pending. After OneWeb was bought and back in business, things continued - a total of up to 6.372 satellites are planned for their worldwide Internet supply.


Lower, faster, more: Starlink as the largest and best-known competitor

Space flights for empires, moon bases, Mars colonization and much more are associated with Elon Musk and SpaceX. But do you already know the planned number of satellites that are to be placed at different heights and orbits above the earth for the Starlink Internet? It should be up to 42.000 pieces. Various steps are planned for this, the first of which have already been completed. The altitudes range from 328 km to 614 km, with the orbital altitudes in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) promising fast response times and thus the lowest latency. Phases 1 and 2 have already brought up 4.408 satellites; Phase 3 dwarfs that with another 30.000 pieces.


Space issues, security risks and rubbish

ZDF Magazin Royale also showed the increase from 1.091 earth-orbiting satellites in 2012 to 4.877 above-ground satellites in 2021 as well as plans for further placements from the ranks of the private sector Post from 23.09.2022/XNUMX/XNUMX. The main focus was on Elon Musk's SpaceX, but also on Project Kuiper from Amazon and Jeff Bezos. Starlink, as a billionaire's private satellite internet, also had direct consequences for the development of Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine - to the advantage of the attacked Ukraine, but nevertheless a contentious development of the entire communications situation. It also shows why so much is possible for private companies in space.

It is also about warfare in the area of ​​thousands and potentially tens of thousands of satellites. Several states have already tried satellite destruction. The consequence was not only the switching off of a communication device, but also the creation of space debris, which is dangerous for other earth-orbiting equipment as well as the International Space Station ISS. In addition berichtete heise online in November 2021 because the ISS crew had to retreat to the space capsules due to space debris. Incidentally, the scrap resulted from the destruction of a satellite that occurred in 2007 as a result of a missile test by China. More on that in the ZDF report:

Criticism of Project Kuiper, Starlink and similar ventures

In addition to the goal of worldwide Internet coverage, which is repeatedly put in the foreground - including on remote islands, at sea, in mobile homes and elsewhere - there are many problems with the increasingly dense network of satellites near the earth. Incidentally, OneWeb states that the service life of the radio technology is only five years, which is a joke considering the effort involved in installation and (not yet sufficiently developed) removal. In addition, space observation from Earth is disrupted. And last but not least, the individual companies will certainly not live primarily from private users and their Internet tariffs, but rather from financing from the military sector.

In the Wikipedia article, which I linked above as the source for the information about Starlink, you will find even more detailed negative points under the heading "Criticism". These can actually be applied across the board to Projekt Kuiper, OneWeb and Co. The first two points "space junk" and "collision risks" are also good in one Video summarized by Terra X, which has been online since 2018, but has not really lost any of its topicality - on the contrary. And with that, I'll close this post for now. If you have any additions, please leave a comment.

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