SpaceX and Amazon hit the NASA jackpot

SpaceX and Amazon are popular… At least with NASA. The US space agency on Thursday awarded contracts to Amazon’s satellite company Project Kuiper and SpaceX’s satellite internet operator Starlink as part of a $287.5 million program of dollars to provide its future satellite communications. The call for tenders launched by NASA rewarded six players in the satellite market, including – in addition to Amazon and SpaceX – Inmarsat, Viasat, Telecast and SES.

In detail, NASA awarded $67 million to Amazon’s Project Kuiper to provide a “commercial low-Earth orbit relay optical network for high- and low-speed SATCOM services to low-Earth orbit spacecraft for space missions. routine, contingency operations and communications at the start of an operation”.

SpaceX has secured $69.5 million for the deployment of a commercial Low Earth Orbit Relay Optical Network to provide high-throughput SATCOM services to Low Earth Orbit spacecraft for routine missions, mission operations, and spacecraft. emergency, launch and climb, and start-up communications.

Amazon and SpaceX as gondola heads

Companies have until 2025 to demonstrate that their technology can deliver new high-speed, high-capacity two-way communications. NASA wants to enter into multiple long-term agreements with companies for near-Earth SATCOM operations by 2030, while it is phasing out its own systems.

As NASA explains, it envisions NASA communications services being used by other government agencies and commercial spaceflight enterprises to meet their own mission requirements. It also seeks to evolve data transmissions, which are mainly from space to Earth, towards higher capacity two-way communications.

As a reminder, SpaceX has launched about 2,000 Starlink broadband satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO), while Amazon has yet to launch any of its own constellation’s satellites. The e-commerce giant, however, announced earlier this month that Project Kuiper had secured 83 launches from Arianespace, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance (ULA), with enough capacity to carry the majority of its 3,236 satellites.


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