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Amazon gives first look at Project Kuiper satellite internet antennas

by SuperiorInvest

The company’s “standard” customer terminal, the middle of a trio of Project Kuiper satellite dishes measuring less than 11 square inches and weighing under five pounds.


WASHINGTON — Amazon unveiled a trio of satellite dishes on Tuesday as the company prepares SpaceX Starlink with its own Project Kuiper internet network.

The tech giant said the “standard” version of the satellite dish, also known as a customer terminal, will cost Amazon less than $400 apiece to manufacture.

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“Every technology and business decision we’ve made has focused on what will deliver the best experience for different customers around the world, and our line of customer terminals reflects those choices,” said Rajeev Badyal, Amazon’s vice president of technology for Project Kuiper. in the statement.

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The Kuiper Project is Amazon’s plan to build a network of 3,236 satellites in low earth orbit to provide high speed internet anywhere in the world. In 2020, the Federal Communications Commission approved Amazon’s system, which the company is “investing more than $10 billion” to build.

Kuiper antennas

An “ultra-compact” version of the Kuiper project


The “standard” design measures less than 11 inches square and 1 inch thick and weighs less than 5 pounds. Amazon says the device will provide customers with speeds of “up to 400 megabits per second (Mbps).

The “ultra-compact” model, which Amazon says is its smallest and most affordable, is a 7-inch square design that weighs about 1 pound and will offer speeds of up to 100 Mbps. In addition to residential customers, Amazon plans to offer the antenna to government and enterprise customers for services such as “land mobility and the Internet of Things.”

Amazon senior vice president of devices and services Dave Limp declined to say how much each ultra-compact antenna costs to make, but told CNBC that it is “materially cheaper” to make than a standard model.

Its largest “pro” model with 19 inches by 30 inches represents a high-bandwidth version for more demanding customers. Amazon says this antenna will be able to “deliver speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps)” through space. Badyal told CNBC that there are a variety of enterprise and government applications for the Pro Series, such as “oil rigs in the middle of the ocean” or “ships that want a lot of bandwidth,” such as military vessels.

The company’s customer terminal “Pro”, the largest of the trio of Project Kuiper satellite dishes measuring 19 x 30 inches.


Amazon has not yet said what the monthly service costs will be for Project Kuiper customers.

When Limp showed the first customers his antennas, he said he could see how “excited” they were about the setup.

“They are surprised by the price, surprised by the performance for the size and [the antennas] they’re in a solid state, so there’s no engines,” Limp told CNBC.

Amazon said it expects to begin mass production of commercial satellites by the end of this year. Limp told CNBC that once Amazon’s manufacturing facility is fully built, the company expects to produce up to “three to five satellites a day at scale.”

“We’ll increase to that volume,” Limp said.

Amazon’s demand for rocket launches

The company’s first two prototype satellites are scheduled to launch on the first mission of the United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket, which is scheduled for May.

Badyal told CNBC that Amazon expects to make “minor adjustments” from the prototypes to the commercial version because the satellites are “almost identical” but represent the first time a large piece of the company’s hardware has flown into space.

Company’s prototype Project Kuiper satellites dispatched for launch.


While Amazon has yet to show off its satellites or reveal many details, Limp noted that the Kuiper spacecraft has “more mass” than SpaceX’s first generation Starlink satellites, with Amazon aiming for a “heart of gold size.” And Amazon expects the performance of its Kuiper satellites to “significantly outperform” that of Starlink, with an expected processing power of up to 1 terabit per second (Tbps) of traffic. The satellites are expected to last about seven years before they need to be replaced.

Production satellites are scheduled to be launched in the first half of 2024, with the first service planned when the company has several hundred satellites in orbit, Limp noted.

Last year, Amazon announced the largest corporate rocket trade in the history of the industryand booked 77 launches — deals that included options for more if needed — from various companies to deploy satellites quickly enough to meet regulatory requirements.

Limp said these launches mean Amazon has “enough to get the vast majority of constellations up” into space.

“I don’t think you’ve ever thought about launch capacity, but we feel pretty good about what we have in orders,” Limp added. “If new vehicles come online that are more competitive, we will look at that.”

Notably, Amazon has not purchased launches from SpaceX, America’s most active rocket launcher. Instead, Amazon tapped a number of competitors and bought rides mostly on yet-to-debut rockets.

“I have no religious problem not buying capacity from SpaceX, it’s a very reliable rocket, but the Falcon 9 wasn’t the best for us economically,” Limp explained.

Asked if Amazon would consider owning a rocket system to support its launches, Limp said, “I would never say never to that question,” but that the company is looking for acquisitions in areas “where you can have something that’s different, and it’s something , where it is not well served.”

Limp noted that this is a different scenario than something like “Prime Air,” the company’s cargo airline, because that was a situation where the company predicted e-commerce growth higher than shipping providers like FedEx or UPS or USPS believed.

“We were just using a lot of excess capacity … it wasn’t until it stopped serving us well that we looked at it,” Limp said. “There’s been a shift in that it’s well-served for our needs. Right now, I don’t see it from a missile perspective. There’s a lot of launches.”

How Amazon's Kuiper Project Receives SpaceX's Starlink Satellite Internet

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