By Richard Arneson
In the event you aren’t aware, there’s a 21st century version of the space race, and Amazon just officially entered it. The $700bn company just filed papers with the U.S. government to launch 3,236 satellites that will provide high speed internet service. They’ll launch them under the name Kuiper Systems, an Amazon subsidiary named after noted astronomer Gerard Kuiper, considered the father of modern planetary science (but you already knew that, right?).
According to Amazon, “Project Kuiper is a new initiative to launch a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites that will provide low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to unserved and underserved communities around the world.
“This is a long-term project that envisions serving tens of millions of people who lack basic access to broadband internet. We look forward to partnering on this initiative with companies that share this common vision.”
Actually, the number of people who don’t have Internet access is almost 4 billion, or over half the world’s population. And philanthropic proclamations aside, Amazon will certainly enjoy what other ISPs (Internet Service Providers) do—high profits, especially in the short term.
Neighbors in space
Amazon isn’t the first company, and definitely won’t be the last, with plans to monetize space and reap the rewards. In February, a company named OneWeb launched its first satellites after raising $3 billion from some big name investors, including Coca-Cola and Virgin.
And last December, a company named SpaceX launched a couple of satellite prototypes to help support its ambitious plans to shoot 11,000 satellites into orbit. They’re a little behind, though. Their initial goal was to have 400 launched by the end of 2018.
And what would a party be without Facebook making an appearance? They’re currently working on satellite capabilities through a subsidiary named PointView Tech, which is developing a satellite named Athena. Facebook claims it will deliver data ten times (10x) faster than SpaceX. Why SpaceX is in their crosshairs isn’t clear.
But why stop at Internet connectivity?
Apparently, Amazon really likes this space stuff. Another of its companies, Blue Origin, is currently working on launching payload-carrying vehicles into space. Seriously. In fact, its already signed contracts with Telesat, another company that wants to provide high-speed internet via orbiting satellites. The Blue Origin vehicles look a mushroom-shaped rocket from a 1950’s outer space film…but with a cooler paint job. To find out what they most resemble, you’ll have to go to www.blueorigin.com. Nuff said.
They don’t launch satellites, but they can definitely help digitally transform your organization
If you’d like to learn about how GDT’s design engineers and solutions architects turn traditional, legacy infrastructures into innovative, agile machines that make customers more competitive, help them bring applications to market faster, and deliver a superior customer experience, contact them at SolutionsArchitects@gdt.com or at Engineering@gdt.com. They’d love to hear from you.
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