business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  Amazon this week blogged that "at 2:06 p.m. EDT on Friday, October 6, Project Kuiper sent its first two satellites into space on board an Atlas V rocket from United Launch Alliance (ULA). The launch kicked off the Kuiper Protoflight mission, a monthslong series of tests to validate our system design and network performance. Already, our engineers have collected some of the most critical data from the mission."

“There’s plenty of work ahead, but at this point in the mission, I’m thrilled to report that KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2 are operating nominally,” said Rajeev Badyal, Project Kuiper’s vice president of technology. “The two satellites are stable in orbit, harvesting energy from the sun, and communicating across all links from Earth to space and space to Earth. We’re already learning a lot from this mission that will inform further improvements to our production systems, and the team should be very proud of this milestone.”

According to the announcement, "In the next phase of the mission, we will test our data network end to end. That involves routing data from the internet, through our Amazon Web Services (AWS)-powered ground network, from a ground gateway antenna up to our prototype satellites, and then down to our customer terminal antennas at our test site, as well as sending data in the other direction … Project Kuiper plans to begin satellite production in Kirkland, Washington, before the end of the year, in parallel with the Protoflight mission."

Amazon's Project Kuiper has a lot of work to do in order to get competitive with Elon Musk's Starlink business, which is way ahead at this point.  This is just a start, but I think we'll be a lot better off if there is competition in this space.  I hate the idea of Elon Musk having dominant control of anything.  (Not crazy about the idea that billionaires are the only ones investing in this segment - this should all be a matter of public policy, separate from the whims of oligarchs.