Amazon’s Project Kuiper has been working on building a competitor to SpaceX’s Starlink low-Earth orbit-based satellite internet for years, but it’s on the verge of launching its first actual prototype satellites, and today it unveiled what customers can expect in terms of terminals for actually connecting up to the future network.
These are engineering models, so the final production versions may differ, but Amazon showed off three different versions designed to suit various customer needs. There’s a sub-five pound version with a flat, 11-inch square design that will offer speeds of up to 400 Mbps. Interestingly, Amazon isn’t sharing target pricing but did say that its cost to build these will be under $400 per unit.
A smaller, 7-inch square design will be less capable in terms of max speeds, maxing out at 100 Mbps, but it’ll be “lower-cost” and also have the advantage of being supremely portable for use on the go. Finally, a large, 19 x 30 inch version will offer gigabit speeds and is basically meant for commercial use (meaning probably $$$).
Amazon also revealed that all of its terminals will be powered by an in-house designed baseband chip the company has codenamed “Prometheus.” Prometheus is also going to space aboard the Kuiper satellites, and Amazon says its unique design will allow processing of up to 1 terabit per second (Tbps) of traffic on each one, which should help with handling high network demand.
As announced last year, Amazon intends to launch its first two prototype satellites sometime in 2023 aboard the first United Launch Alliance flight of its all-new Vulcan Centaur rocket. The goal after that is to have mass production of its spacecraft kick off later in the year, with production version launches beginning in 2024 and at least some customers getting access to service by the end of the same year.