Amazon Secures Up to 83 Launches from Arianespace, Blue Origin, and United Launch Alliance for Project Kuiper
Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) today announced agreements with Arianespace, Blue Origin, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) to provide heavy-lift launch services for Project Kuiper, Amazon’s initiative to increase global broadband access using a constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO). The contracts total up to 83 launches over a five-year period, providing capacity for Amazon to deploy the majority of its 3,236-satellite constellation. It is the largest commercial procurement of launch vehicles in history.
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Artist's concept of the Ariane 6, New Glenn, and Vulcan Centaur rockets to be used by Amazon's Project Kuiper. (Photo: Business Wire)
“Project Kuiper will provide fast, affordable broadband to tens of millions of customers in unserved and underserved communities around the world,” said Dave Limp, Senior Vice President for Amazon Devices & Services. “We still have lots of work ahead, but the team has continued to hit milestone after milestone across every aspect of our satellite system. These launch agreements reflect our incredible commitment and belief in Project Kuiper, and we’re proud to be working with such an impressive lineup of partners to deliver on our mission.”
Project Kuiper aims to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband to a wide range of customers, including individual households, schools, hospitals, businesses, government agencies, disaster relief operations, mobile operators, and other organizations working in places without reliable internet connectivity. Amazon is designing and developing the entire system in-house, combining a constellation of advanced LEO satellites with small, affordable customer terminals and a secure, resilient ground-based communications network. Project Kuiper will leverage Amazon’s global logistics and operations footprint, as well as Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) networking and infrastructure, to serve a diverse, global customer base. Project Kuiper will also apply Amazon’s experience producing low-cost devices and services like Echo and Kindle to deliver service at an affordable, accessible price for customers.
“Securing launch capacity from multiple providers has been a key part of our strategy from day one,” said Rajeev Badyal, Vice President of Technology for Project Kuiper at Amazon. “This approach reduces risk associated with launch vehicle stand-downs and supports competitive long-term pricing for Amazon, producing cost savings that we can pass on to our customers. These large, heavy-lift rockets also mean we can deploy more of our constellation with fewer launches, helping simplify our launch and deployment schedule. We’re excited to move one step closer to connecting residential, business, and government customers around the world.”
The scale of these contracts will also boost the wider launch services industry, driving innovation and job creation in the United States and Europe. Suppliers from 49 U.S. states help develop and manufacture the next-generation, heavy-lift launch vehicles from Blue Origin and ULA, while Arianespace relies on ArianeGroup’s network of suppliers from 13 European countries to produce its Ariane 6 rocket. In addition, Amazon is working with Beyond Gravity (formerly RUAG Space), a Switzerland-headquartered space technology provider, to build low-cost, scalable satellite dispensers that will help deploy the Project Kuiper constellation. Beyond Gravity is opening an all-new production facility as a result of the partnership, doubling its production capacity and creating dozens of jobs in Linköping, Sweden.
Arianespace, the European spaceline, has established itself as a leader in the global launch services industry, completing 15 successful launches last year, including the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in late December. Arianespace is on its way to start operating its next-generation heavy-lift launch vehicle, Ariane 6, which is scheduled to launch for the first time by the end of this year. Amazon has secured 18 Ariane 6 rockets as part of this initial agreement.
“This contract, the largest we’ve ever signed, is a great moment in Arianespace’s history. We are honored to be given a significant role to play in the deployment of Amazon’s Project Kuiper, which aims to connect tens of millions of people to the internet,” said Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace. “It will build on the European innovative spirit, industrial might, and years of experience, and it is a major win for the European launcher industry. That Amazon has chosen the Ariane 6 to do the job is a matter of tremendous pride for us and a great vote of confidence in our new launch vehicle.”
Amazon has signed an agreement with Blue Origin to secure 12 launches using New Glenn, with options for up to 15 additional launches. New Glenn is powered by seven BE-4 engines and its reusable first stage is built for a minimum of 25 missions.
“We’re honored to support Amazon’s ambitious mission to provide reliable, affordable broadband to unserved and underserved communities around the world through New Glenn and our BE-4 engines,” said Jarrett Jones, Senior Vice President, New Glenn, Blue Origin. “New Glenn’s seven-meter fairing offers unprecedented mass and volume capabilities, providing Project Kuiper maximum launch flexibility. We also congratulate our partner, United Launch Alliance. We’re proud to build American-made engines for ULA’s Vulcan Centaur.”
United Launch Alliance
Amazon’s agreement with ULA covers 38 launches on Vulcan Centaur, ULA’s newest heavy-lift launch vehicle. This launch services contract also covers production and launch infrastructure to support a higher cadence of launches at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, including a new, dedicated version of the Vulcan Launch Platform (VLP). ULA is making additional investments in its Spaceflight Processing & Operations Center (SPOC) to deliver a second ULA facility capable of full vehicle processing, transforming the launch site to have two parallel “launch lanes” for high-cadence operations. The agreement is in addition to Project Kuiper’s existing deal to secure nine Atlas V vehicles from ULA.
“This agreement marks the beginning of an exciting new era for ULA and for the entire U.S. launch industry. With a total of 47 launches between our Atlas and Vulcan vehicles, we are proud to launch the majority of this important constellation,” said Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO. “It will support hundreds of jobs, especially in places like Alabama, Colorado and Florida, and Amazon’s investments in launch infrastructure and capability upgrades will benefit both commercial and government customers.”
Project Kuiper plans to launch two prototype missions later this year on ABL Space Systems’ RS1 rocket. There are now more than 1,000 people at Amazon working on Project Kuiper, and the team continues to make progress as it approaches a full, production-ready deployment—finalizing its high-performance satellite design, producing a compact, affordable customer terminal, and deploying a secure, reliable communications network that connects satellites to customers and infrastructure on the ground. Once deployed, the Kuiper System will have the capacity to serve tens of millions of residential, business, and government customers in places without reliable broadband. Moving forward, Amazon will continue to partner with companies that share its commitment to closing the global digital divide and creating new opportunities for innovation. To learn more about Project Kuiper, watch our overview video.
Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Amazon strives to be Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company, Earth’s Best Employer, and Earth’s Safest Place to Work. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Career Choice, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, Alexa, Just Walk Out technology, Amazon Studios, and The Climate Pledge are some of the things pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit amazon.com/about and follow @AmazonNews.
This press release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements other than statements of historical fact, including statements regarding anticipated business activities, made in this press release are forward-looking. We use words such as aims, anticipates, believes, expects, future, intends, will, and similar expressions to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements reflect management’s current expectations and are inherently uncertain. Actual results and outcomes could differ materially for a variety of reasons, including, among others, changes in our liquidity, financial condition, or capital allocation and financing strategies or in the debt and equity markets, including as a result of fluctuations in foreign exchange rates, changes in global economic conditions and customer spending, world events, the rate of growth of the Internet, online commerce, and cloud services, the amount that Amazon.com invests in new business opportunities and the timing of those investments, the mix of products and services sold to customers, the mix of net sales derived from products as compared with services, the extent to which we owe income or other taxes, competition, management of growth, potential fluctuations in operating results, international growth and expansion, the outcomes of claims, litigation, government investigations, and other proceedings, fulfillment, sortation, delivery, and data center optimization, risks of inventory management, variability in demand, the degree to which we enter into, maintain, and develop commercial agreements, proposed and completed acquisitions and strategic transactions, payments risks, and risks of fulfillment throughput and productivity. In addition, the global economic climate and additional or unforeseen effects from the global pandemic amplify many of these risks. These risks and uncertainties, as well as other risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ significantly from management’s expectations, are described in greater detail in Amazon.com’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including its most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and subsequent filings. Although we undertake no obligation to revise or update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law, you are advised to consult any additional disclosures we make in our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, and Current Reports on Form 8-K filed with the SEC.
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