Amazon gives first look at Project Kuiper satellite internet antennas

The company’s “standard” customer terminal, the center of the trio of Project Kuiper satellite antennas, is less than 11 inches square and weighs less than 5 pounds.


WASHINGTON– Amazon 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 said the “standard” version of the satellite antenna, also known as a customer terminal, is expected to cost Amazon less than $400 apiece.

“Every technology and business decision we’ve had has focused on what provides the best experience for different customers around the world, and our customer terminal offering reflects those decisions,” said Rajeev Badyal, Amazon vice president of technology for Project Kuiper in a statement.

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Project Kuiper is Amazon’s plan to build a network of 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit to deliver high-speed internet anywhere in the world. The Federal Communications Commission approved Amazon’s system in 2020, which the company will invest “more than $10 billion” in building.

The Kuiper antennas

The “ultra compact” version of Project Kuiper


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

An “ultra-compact” model, which Amazon says is the smallest and most affordable, has a 7-inch square design that weighs about 1 pound and offers speeds of up to 100Mbps. In addition to residential customers, Amazon plans to offer the antenna to government and enterprise customers for services such as “ground mobility and the Internet of Things.”

Dave Limp, Amazon’s senior vice president of devices and services, declined to say how much it costs to make each ultra-compact antenna, but told CNBC it was “substantially less” expensive to manufacture than the standard model.

Its largest 19-inch by 30-inch “Pro” model represents a high-bandwidth version for more demanding customers. Amazon says this antenna will be capable of “speeds of up to 1 gigabits per second (Gbps)” over deliver to space. Badyal told CNBC that there are a variety of corporate and government uses for the Pro Series, such as: B. “oil platforms in the middle of the ocean” or “vessels that require a lot of bandwidth”, such. B. Military ships.

The company’s “Pro” customer terminal is the largest of the trio of Project Kuiper satellite dishes, measuring 19″ x 30″.


Amazon is yet to say what the monthly service costs will be for Project Kuiper customers.

When he showed his antennas to his first clients, Limp said he saw them feeling “excited” about the lineup.

“You’re surprised at the price points, surprised at the performance for the size and [the antennas] are solids, so there are no motors,” Limp told CNBC.

Amazon expects to start mass-producing commercial satellites by the end of this year. Limp told CNBC that once Amazon’s manufacturing facility is fully built, the company expects to manufacture up to “three to five satellites a day at scale.”

“We’re going to ramp up to that volume,” Limp said.

Amazon’s call for rocket launches

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

Badyal told CNBC that Amazon expects to make “minor changes” to the commercial version’s prototypes as the satellites are “nearly identical” but the first time much of the company’s hardware has flown into space.

The company’s Project Kuiper satellite prototype will be delivered at launch.


While Amazon has yet to show off its satellites or reveal many details, Limp noted that the Kuiper spacecraft has a “greater mass” than SpaceX’s first-generation Starlink satellites, with Amazon targeting “Goldilocks-size.” And Amazon expects the performance of its Kuiper satellites to “significantly outperform” them compared to Starlink, with expected processing power of up to 1 terabit per second (Tbps) of traffic. The satellites are expected to last about seven years in space before they need to be replaced.

Production satellite launches are scheduled to begin in the first half of 2024, with first service planned once the company has a few hundred satellites in orbit, Limp noted.

Amazon announced last year the largest corporate rocket deal in industry history and has booked 77 launches — contracts that included options for more if needed — from a variety of companies to deploy the satellites fast enough to meet regulatory requirements.

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

“I don’t think you’ve ever thought about launch capacity, but we’re feeling pretty good about what we have on the order books,” Limp added. “If new vehicles come online that are more competitive, we will look at that.”

Notably, Amazon hasn’t bought launches from SpaceX, the most active US rocket launcher. Instead, Amazon has tapped into a host of competitors, largely buying rides on rockets that have yet to debut.

“I have no religious problem not buying capacity from SpaceX, they’re a very reliable rocket, but the Falcon 9 wasn’t the best rocket for us economically,” Limp explained.

When asked if Amazon would consider owning a missile system to support its launches, Limp said, “I would never say never to a question like that,” but that the company is looking for acquisitions in areas “where you can do something can have that differs, and it’s something where it’s not well served.”

Limp noted that this is a different scenario than Prime Air, the company’s cargo carrier, because it was a situation where the company’s forecast for e-commerce growth was higher than transportation providers like FedEx or UPS or USPS believed.

“We just used a lot of the excess capacity… it wasn’t until it was no longer well served that we looked at it,” Limp said. “There was a shift in that it was well served for our needs. Right now I’m not seeing it from a rocket perspective. There are many launches out there.” Amazon gives first look at Project Kuiper satellite internet antennas

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