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SpaceX Continues Internet Satellite Launches as Amazon’s Project Kuiper Gets Underway

More than most other states, Florida is often associated with space travel after the historic  launches performed there in the ‘60s. A lot has changed since, but Cape Canaveral is still the  number one spot to conduct launches. Today, it’s tech giants like SpaceX and Amazon who  compete along our east coast, as they try to establish the next generation of internet  infrastructure. 

Image by Bill Jelen / Unsplash

How Satellite Internet Works 

While satellite broadband is an idea almost as old as the space race, several modern  companies have doubled down on the promise of beaming the internet down from the stars.  Once the astronomical cost of launching to space dropped in the 2010s, it was open season  for companies that wanted to create mega-constellations of internet-enabling satellites. 

Image by SpaceX / Pexels

They aim to make the internet more accessible in a world that’s increasingly relying on it.  Many online industries wouldn’t exist without widespread internet access, like video-sharing  or iGaming. Likewise, the internet is also a powerful tool for sourcing information, from the  latest news to other niche interests. In industries like iGaming, some sites discuss and rank  the best online casinos, including consumer-friendly details like free spin offers or deposit  bonuses. 

A similar information economy exists around most industries online, especially when the  business model relies on the internet in the first place. Each of these websites needs two  things to function – hosting and connection to the user. Satellite internet promises to connect  more people to the online world, no matter where they live. 

By establishing a constellation of low-Earth orbit satellites, it’s possible to provide internet  coverage to areas that haven’t got much infrastructure. For example, there has long been an urban-rural divide when it comes to internet coverage, as infrastructure is focused closer to  the cities. That’s why getting an internet connection in the Everglades is tougher than downtown Miami, for example. With a Starlink satellite above them, even the most rural  communities can access the internet with no need for fiber-optic cables. 

Image by Richard Sagredo / Unsplash

Starlink & Project Kuiper 

To boost internet coverage, companies like Starlink and Amazon’s Project Kuiper have  stepped to the fore. In recent years, these companies have spent billions to build and launch  spacecraft from Florida’s own Cape Canaveral. Those launches hold the crucial satellites that,  if successful, might become the standard way of establishing an internet connection. 

After testing their launches in 2018, Starlink launched its first-ever working satellites in  2019. Since then, nearly 6,000 of them have been placed into Earth’s orbit. Through Starlink,  SpaceX has a significant head start on satellite internet coverage, and they continue to add to  their constellation today. In April 2024, 23 new Starlink satellites were launched from the  Space Coast using their Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX’s website displays every satellite launch,  including footage when available. 

Image by Laurenz Heymann / Unsplash

Starlink’s success has left competitors playing catch-up, namely Project Kuiper. Jeff Bezos is  no stranger to spaceflight, having founded Blue Origin more than 20 years ago now.  Following Starlink’s success, the retail and tech giant added Project Kuiper to its umbrella of  subsidiaries. They plan to compete with Starlink by floating a constellation of satellites that  provide affordable internet access. At present, they want to send just 3,236 satellites into  space, though that figure will swell if the company is successful. 

Image by NASA / Unsplash

Kuiper cleared two test launches in October of 2023, both at the Cape Canaveral Space Force  Station. Multiple launches have occurred since then, including some that have used SpaceX’s  Falcon 9 launch vehicle. Amazon wants to offer operational internet by the end of 2024,  though the first half of the constellation won’t be in place until 2026. Fortunately, Florida and  other mainland US states will be the first to benefit from early launches. Amazon has also  invested significantly in new real estate around the East Coast, namely an integration facility  at the Kennedy Space Center which will finish in 2025. 

Image by SpaceX / Unsplash

By ML Staff. Images courtesy of Pexels & Unsplash


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