Amazon has recently made a significant stride in its ambitious satellite internet project, Project Kuiper, by inking a deal with SpaceX, a company led by Elon Musk, who is also a chief competitor in the space industry. This move is intriguing, especially considering the ongoing rivalry between Musk and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who owns Blue Origin, another major player in the space sector.
Despite their history of public spats and Musk's frequent jabs at Bezos and Blue Origin on social media, this collaboration underscores a practical aspect of the aerospace industry where competitors often become collaborators.
Amazon's decision to partner with SpaceX is partly due to the delays in the development of Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket, which is expected to make its debut launch no earlier than next year.
Expanding Horizons in Satellite Internet
Amazon announced this deal through a press release on Friday, revealing plans for three SpaceX Falcon 9 launches, anticipated to begin around mid-2025.
These launches are a crucial part of Amazon's plan to develop a constellation of thousands of satellites aimed at providing global internet connectivity. This project, named Project Kuiper, is set to compete directly with SpaceX’s Starlink service, which already boasts over 5,000 satellites in orbit.
Earlier in April 2022, Amazon had made headlines by securing a multi-billion-dollar contract for 77 rocket launches with Blue Origin, United Launch Alliance (ULA), and European launch provider Arianespace. This move was aimed at supporting the deployment of Kuiper satellites.
However, the collaboration with SpaceX has not been without controversy. In August, the Cleveland Bakers and Teamsters Pension Fund filed a lawsuit against Amazon executives, alleging a breach of fiduciary responsibilities by not opting for SpaceX, which the suit claims is one of the most cost-effective launch providers.
Amazon has dismissed these claims as baseless and is prepared to defend its decision in court. “The claims in this lawsuit are completely without merit, and we look forward to showing that through the legal process,” said an Amazon spokesperson at the time.
In its latest statement, Amazon emphasized that the initial deal would cover the majority of its satellite constellation's needs, and the additional SpaceX launches would further support its deployment schedule.