Amazon opts for rival SpaceX as launch partner for internet satellite
Delays in Amazon's satellite launches have led to an agreement with SpaceX for three launches using the Falcon 9 rocket.
Amazon.com Inc. has entered into an agreement with its competitor SpaceX for three launches using Elon Musk's Falcon 9 rocket, this move allows Amazon to secure additional capacity for deploying its internet-from-space satellites into orbit, Bloomberg reported.
Initially, Amazon aimed to launch its first satellites by the fourth quarter of 2022. However, setbacks, including testing failures and other issues with its launch partners, have caused delays in the scheduled flights.
In 2022, Amazon revealed an agreement with three launch service providers—United Launch Alliance, Blue Origin LLC founded by Amazon's Jeff Bezos, and Arianespace. The deal was structured for a minimum of 68 launches, potentially reaching up to 83 launches, utilizing the rockets from these companies to deploy the majority of the Project Kuiper constellation into orbit.
However, this arrangement hinges on the use of newly developed rockets that have not yet been launched into space and have faced multiple delays, Bloomberg noted.
In a distinct agreement, Amazon utilized United Launch Alliance's (ULA) older but proven Atlas V rocket to transport its initial two satellites into orbit in October. Amazon still has eight more launches scheduled with this rocket, even though the Atlas V is currently in the process of being phased out of service.
Earlier this year, a pension fund filed a lawsuit against Bezos, Amazon's board members, and the company itself. The lawsuit claimed that Amazon neglected to explore the option of employing dependable SpaceX rockets for Kuiper launches, citing the rivalry between Bezos and Musk as a factor.
This decision allegedly resulted in more costly rocket launches and project delays, as unexpected technical issues arose with the spacecraft from Blue Origin and other launch partners that Amazon was depending on. Amazon responded to the complaint, stating that the claims were without merit.
(With inputs from Bloomberg)
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