by Douglas MessierManaging Editor
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved Amazon’s plan to launch its Kuiper constellation of 3,236 satellites to provide global broadband coverage.
Jeff Bezos’ company plans to invest $10 billion in the constellation, which will compete with OneWeb and SpaceX’s Starlink system to deliver high-speed, low-latency broadband services via satellite.
According to the FCC’s approval order, Amazon plans to deploy Kuiper in five phases. Initial service will be offered once the first 578 satellites are launched.
The FAA has stipulated that Amazon must launch and operate 50 percent of its satellites no later than July 30, 2026. The remainder of the satellites must be operation on orbit by July 30, 2029.
Kuiper’s 3,236 satellites will operate in 98 orbital planes in medium Earth orbit at altitudes of 590 km, 610 km, and 630 km.
In order to limit orbital debris, Amazon plans to deorbit Kuiper satellites within 355 days following the completion of their mission. This is a much shorter than the 25-year standard established by NASA.
“Because the design of Kuiper’s satellites is not completed, and because Kuiper consequently did not present specific information concerning some required elements of a debris mitigation plan, ...