Amazon is getting closer to being able to deploy Project Kuiper’s broadband satellites. The company has just received key approval from the Federal Communications Commission, which it needs to be able to officially send 3,236 satellites to orbit and to begin Kuiper’s satellite internet operations. As SpaceNews notes, Amazon secured an initial approval from the agency in 2020. The FCC gave it permission to launch thousands of Low Earth Orbit satellites, so long as it later secures regulatory approval for an updated orbital debris mitigation plan.
In the order (PDF), the commission said the updated plan satisfies the condition it gave the company when it granted its request back in 2020. This additional approval “will allow Kuiper to begin deployment of its constellation in order to bring high-speed broadband connectivity to customers around the world.”
As part of its updated orbital debris mitigation plan, the FCC will require Amazon to submit a a semi-annual report “concerning the number of satellites launched and disposal reliability.” If Amazon experiences disposal failure with satellites within a single year, it has to report that fact to the FCC, as well. In addition, the commission is requiring Project Kuiper to ensure that it will be able to deorbit its satellites after their seven-year mission is done. Making sure the decommissioned satellites are out of orbit is necessary to prevent them from colliding with the International Space Station and other inhabitable stations.
Late last year, Amazon revealed that the first two Project Kuiper satellites will head to orbit aboard the maiden flight of United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket. Vulcan Centaur is still currently under testing, but if all goes to plan, it’ll fly for the first time in the next few months.
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