by Kevin Coupe
Amazon's plans to launch 3,236 satellites into low-Earth orbit, which will then be able to provide satellite-based broadband service to remote areas of the US and the world that traditionally have had trouble accessing such services, have been approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The initiative, dubbed by Amazon as Project Kuiper, has a projected cost of more than $10 billion.
Engadget reports that half the satellites have to be launched by 2026, with all of them in the sky by July 2029. Amazon reportedly also has agreed to "de-orbit" the satellites within a year of the date that they have completed their mission, as opposed to within 20 years, which is the NASA standard; this accelerated pace is key to addressing what is called "Low Earth Orbit’s growing space debris problem."
Now, if you know anything about this stuff, Amazon is hiring - there are 110 jobs on Project Kuiper posted on its website.
FYI … the project is named after the Kuiper belt, an icy region outside the orbit of Neptune, named after planetary scientist Gerard Kuiper. (I was curious, and thought you might be, too.)
And one other point, that to me is the real potential Eye-Opener. This didn't come up in this week's Congressional hearings, but Project Kuiper would seem to be right in line with Amazon's goal of being uniquely embedded in consumers' lives. I wonder how many US citizens who didn't have it before will get high-speed internet because of Amazon … and I wonder how this might factor into how lawmakers decide to deal with regulation.