Amazon has changed the rocket-delivery system it intends to use to launch the first two prototype satellites of its Project Kuiper network, pushing the launch back to early 2023.
Amazon will now deploy its Kuipersat-1 and Kuipersat-2 satellites using the Vulcan Centaur Rocket, developed by United Launch Alliance (ULA), rather than using the RS1 produced by ABL Space Systems, the company announced on Wednesday.
A rival to SpaceX’s Starlink, Project Kuiper is Amazon’s project that involves building a network of more than 3,200 low-orbit satellites to provide a global broadband network.
The satellites will be completed later this year, Amazon said. The company had previously said the RS1 would carry the first two satellites during the final quarter of 2022.
“We’ve already secured 38 Kuiper launches on Vulcan, and using the same launch vehicle for our prototype mission gives us a chance to practice payload integration, processing, and mission management procedures ahead of those full-scale commercial launches,” said Rajeev Badyal, vice president of technology for Project Kuiper, in a statement.
The two prototype satellites will be used to run tests, ahead of the first commercial launches of Amazon’s production version of the satellites.
Amazon said it had secured up to 92 launches from ULA — a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin — Arianespace, and founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.
The Vulcan Centaur will launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
A spokesperson for Amazon said the company intends to retain two launches with ABL, but did not say when these would be. ABL president, Dan Piemont, told CNBC on Wednesday, that the company finished work on a custom spacecraft for Project Kuiper earlier this year.
ABL and ULA didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for further comment, which was made outside of standard business hours. Business Insider