Amazon gives first look at Project Kuiper satellite internet antennas

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


WASHINGTON — Amazon: It unveiled a trio of satellite antennas on Tuesday as the company prepares to take on SpaceX’s Starlink with its own Project Kuiper internet network.

The tech giant says the “standard” version of the satellite dish, also known as a customer terminal, is expected to cost less than $400 per Amazon to manufacture.

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

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Project Kuiper 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. The Federal Communications Commission authorized Amazon’s system in 2020, which the company said it would “invest more than $10 billion” to build.

Kuiper antennae

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

The “ultra-compact” model, which Amazon says is the smallest and most affordable model, 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.”

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

Its largest ‘pro’ model, measuring 19″ by 30″, represents a high-throughput option for more demanding customers. Amazon says this antenna will be able to “generate speeds of up to 1 gigabits per second (Gbps)” through space. Badyal told CNBC that there are a number of business and government applications for the professional series, such as “oil rigs in the middle of the ocean” or “vessels that require a lot of throughput,” such as warships.

The company’s Pro client terminal, the largest of the trio of Project Kuiper satellite dishes, measures 19 inches by 30 inches.


Amazon has not yet said what it expects the monthly customer service cost of Project Kuiper to be.

Showing his antennas to early customers, Limp said he saw them getting “excited” about the line.

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

Amazon has 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 at scale” per day.

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

Amazon rocket launch requirement

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

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

The company’s prototype Project Kuiper satellites are delivered for launch.


While Amazon has yet to show off its satellites or reveal many details, Limp noted that the Kuiper spacecraft are “more massive” than SpaceX’s first generation of Starlink satellites, with Amazon aiming for “Goldilocks size.” : And Amazon expects the performance of its Kuiper satellites to “significantly outperform” those of Starlink, with expected throughput of up to 1 terabits per second (Tbps) of traffic. The life expectancy of the satellites in space is expected to be about seven years before they need to be replaced.

Launches of production satellites are expected to begin in the first half of 2024, with initial maintenance scheduled for when the company has several hundred satellites in orbit, Limp said.

Amazon announced last year largest corporate rocket deal in industry history and has completed 77 launches; deals that included more options, if needed, from a number of companies to deploy satellites quickly enough to meet regulatory requirements.

Limp said those launches mean Amazon has “enough to lift the vast majority of the constellation into space.”

“I don’t think you’re ever done thinking about launch capacity, but we feel pretty good about what we have in the order book,” Limp added. “If new cars come online that are more competitive, we will look at it.”

Notably, Amazon has not purchased launches from the most active US rocket company, SpaceX. Instead, Amazon has acquired a number of competitors, buying flights mostly with rockets that have yet to debut.

“I have no religious problem with buying power from SpaceX, they are a very reliable rocket, but the Falcon 9 was not the best rocket economically for us,” Limp explained.

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

Limp noted that it was a different scenario than Prime Air, the company’s cargo airline, because it was a situation where the company’s forecast for e-commerce growth was higher than transportation providers such as FedEx thought. or UPS or USPS.

“We were just using most of the excess capacity … it was only when it stopped being well served that we looked at it,” Limp said. “There has been a shift in being well served for our needs. I don’t see it from a rocket standpoint at this point. There are a lot of releases out there.”

How Amazon's Project Kuiper Compares to SpaceX's Starlink Satellite Internet

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