Amazon has confirmed it is joining SpaceX and others in plans to launch a constellation of thousands of low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellites as a means of providing globe-spanning broadband Internet connectivity, under the codename Project Kuiper.
The Seattle-based online powerhouse was looking to partner with like-minded companies on the effort. But Bezos has already been funding Blue Origin with upwards of $1 billion a year and Amazon itself remains one of the world's most valuable companies.
More test flights lie ahead, but the first flights with passengers on board could start by late 2019. Amazon will vie with Elon Musk's Starlink network, which past year launched the first two test satellites of a potential network of 12,000 that would provide speedy space-based internet access. And, wouldn't you know it, Amazon launched AWS Ground Station for space-to-ground communications previous year.
Amazon said its Kuiper constellation will provide data coverage for spots on Earth ranging from 56 degrees north to 56 degrees south, an area encompassing 95 percent of the world's population.
The plan is codenamed "Project Kuiper" and could cost billions of dollars, according to GeekWire.
Amazon is planning to launch a constellation of more than 3,000 satellites into orbit to improve global internet access.
Amazon hasn't disclosed who would build the satellites or when they would be launched, and hasn't yet filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for USA market access for the system.
Amazon has set up a subsidiary called Kuiper Systems LLC in Washington D.C.to oversee the operation.