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Amazon has asked for permission to launch 3,200 broadband satellites

Bezos at space summit
Bezos at space summit
Bezos at space summitAP

The firm has filed an application with the FCC to join SpaceX, One Web, and others in launching a constellation of satellites to provide broadband internet.

The plan: Amazon has asked for permission to launch 3,236 satellites into orbit as part of Project Kuiper. It says it wants to connect the tens of millions around the globe who don’t have broadband internet access. “Amazon’s mission is to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, and the Kuiper System is one of our ambitious projects to fulfill this mission,” the filing states

Up and running: The satellites will fly at 98 orbital planes, at altitudes between 366 and 391 miles (589 to 629 kilometers). They will de-orbit after 10 years to mitigate the risk of space debris, Geekwire reports. Amazon says it can start offering broadband satellite services once the first 578 satellites are in position. 

Getting busy: By 2025 as many as 1,100 satellites could be launching each year—up from 365 in 2018. SpaceX has permission to fly 12,000 small satellites by 2027 as part of its Starlink constellation. It has already placed 60 in orbit, so it has the jump on Amazon. There’s a bit of extra needle in the filings, too. Kuiper’s president as listed in the filing is a former Starlink engineer who was reportedly fired by Elon Musk in a SpaceX reorganization. 

Read more about all of the coming satellite constellations in this article from our space issue.

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Photograph, Seine et Marne on march the 6th 2021 at night. Taurus constellation. On this image we can see the effect of the movements of artificial satellites through the sky. On the left we can see the planet Mars, on the right the famous stars cluster the Pleiades (M45). From the bottom right the luminous trail of the satellite STARLINK-1269, and from the top the luminous trail of the satellite STARLINK-1577
Photograph, Seine et Marne on march the 6th 2021 at night. Taurus constellation. On this image we can see the effect of the movements of artificial satellites through the sky. On the left we can see the planet Mars, on the right the famous stars cluster the Pleiades (M45). From the bottom right the luminous trail of the satellite STARLINK-1269, and from the top the luminous trail of the satellite STARLINK-1577

SpaceX just lost 40 satellites to a geomagnetic storm. There could be worse to come.

Increasing solar activity could play havoc with mega-constellations like Starlink in the coming years.

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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