What just happened? Amazon has reached agreements with three spacecraft launch service providers to help transport its broadband satellite Internet constellation to space. Collectively, the launches will supply Amazon with the capacity to deploy most of its 3,236-satellite constellation. Amazon described it as the largest procurement of launch vehicles in history.
Amazon has commissioned 38 launches from United Launch Alliance aboard its Vulcan Centaur heavy-lift vehicle, another 18 from European space line Arianespace using its upcoming Ariane 6 rockets and a dozen from Blue Origin courtesy of its New Glenn heavy-lift launch vehicle. Amazon can exercise options for up to 15 additional launches with Blue Origin, pushing the total number of launches up to as many as 83 over a five-year period.
It's no surprise to see Amazon ink a contract with Blue Origin considering both companies were founded by Jeff Bezos.
Rajeev Badyal, VP of Technology for Project Kuiper at Amazon, said they secured launch capacity from multiple providers to reduce risk associated with launch vehicle stand-downs. Contracts with multiple parties also support competitive long-term pricing for Amazon, which can be passed down to customers.
Arianespace assisted in the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope on Christmas Day 2021.
Amazon also announced it is working with Swiss-based space technology provider Beyond Gravity to create low-cost, scalable satellite dispensers to help deploy its satellites.