Amazon is enlisting the help of one of its biggest rivals to shuttle its Project Kuiper internet satellites into space. The company will use SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket for three launches beginning in 2025, Amazon announced on Friday.
Project Kuiper is Amazon’s low Earth orbit satellite program that could eventually provide users across the globe with internet connectivity. Amazon launched its first two Project Kuiper test satellites into space in October, where it managed to connect to the internet and conduct a two-way video call. However, it still has to do some serious catching up to SpaceX’s Starlink, which has already deployed around 5,000 satellites.
Despite the rivalry between the two companies, it doesn’t exactly come as a surprise that Amazon has chosen SpaceX as a future launch provider. Satellite companies and government agencies have become increasingly reliant on SpaceX’s reusable rockets for consistent — and cheaper — launches, as pointed out by an earlier report from The Wall Street Journal. The Elon Musk-owned company powered 88 percent of flights in the first six months of 2023 alone.
Most of Amazon’s satellites will still be ferried by Arianespace, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, and United Launch Alliance (ULA), though. Amazon secured up to 83 launches with the three companies last year, which it says “provides enough capacity to launch the majority” of its planned 3,236 satellite constellation. It will deploy more Project Kuiper satellites in the first half of 2024, with beta testing starting toward the end of next year.