Arstechnica.com reported the launch and mission as follows, “The first two prototype satellites for Amazon’s broadband network launched Friday from Florida, the first in a series of at least 77 rocket launches the retail giant has booked over the next six years to deploy a fleet of more than 3,200 spacecraft to rival SpaceX’s Starlink system.
These first two satellites for Amazon’s $10 billion Internet megaconstellation, called Project Kuiper, took off on top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 2:06 pm EDT (18:06 UTC).
On its 99th flight, ULA’s Atlas V rocket fired a Russian-made RD-180 engine and thundered off the launch pad, heading east from the Florida coastline over the Atlantic Ocean. The kerosene-fueled engine—flying without the aid of solid rocket boosters on this flight—fired more than four minutes, then a hydrogen-burning engine on the rocket’s Centaur upper stage took over for a 10-minute burn to reach a targeted 311-mile-high (500-kilometer) orbit.
Amazon’s two test satellites separated from the rocket about 18 minutes after liftoff. ULA, a 50-50 joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, confirmed the launch phase of the mission was a success.
“This initial launch is the first step in support of deployment of Amazon’s initiative to provide fast, affordable broadband service to unserved and underserved communities around the world,” said Gary Wentz, ULA’s vice president of government and commercial programs, in a press release.”
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