In brief: As Internet connectivity becomes a progressively instrumental part of modern society, tech giants like Amazon are increasingly seeing the value in connecting those unserved by current solutions. One method of doing that being explored by multiple companies involves putting thousands of small satellites into orbit above Earth.
Amazon is working on an initiative to launch a constellation of low-Earth orbit satellites into space that will provide high-speed broadband connectivity to unserved and underserved regions around the globe.
Rumblings of the undertaking, codenamed Project Kuiper, first surfaced last September. More concrete evidence of the project emerged in March through public filings with the International Telecommunications Union.
An Amazon spokesperson confirmed the initiative’s existence in an e-mailed statement to GeekWire, referencing it as a long-term project aiming to serve tens of millions of people that lack basic Internet connectivity.
Project Kuiper – not likely to be the final name once commercialized – will consist of 784 satellites at an altitude of 367 miles, 1,296 units positioned at 379 miles above Earth and 1,156 floating in 391-mile-high orbits. Collectively, they’ll provide coverage on Earth between 56 degrees north and 56 degrees south latitude, an area that covers roughly 95 percent of the population.
The idea of a constellation of thousands of small Internet-beaming satellites isn’t unique to Amazon. SpaceX has already launched prototypes of its Starlink network into orbit, as has OneWeb. Facebook is also working with LeoSat on a similar project.
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