I'm sure you've heard the saying about something everyone thinks would never happen - pigs will fly. Often said as "pigs will fly before that!"
Then why did a flock of pigs just fly overhead? Amazon has signed a contract with SpaceX to launch their Kuiper satellites.
Amazon announced Friday that it has purchased three Falcon 9 rocket launches from SpaceX beginning in mid-2025 to help deploy the retail giant's network of Kuiper Internet satellites.In a statement, Amazon said the SpaceX launches will provide "additional capacity" to "supplement existing launch contracts to support Project Kuiper’s satellite deployment schedule."
April of '22, word broke that
Amazon had chosen "everybody except SpaceX" to launch
"the majority" of their 3,236-satellite Project Kuiper
constellation. Amazon had contracted for 68 rocket flights from United
Launch Alliance, Arianespace, and Blue Origin. Before those 68, they
signed on for five Atlas V launches of the initial satellites in that eventual
The first two Kuiper prototype satellites launched Friday, October 6th
on an Atlas V after being swapped to it from the continually-slipping out
maiden flight of Vulcan centaur. All I've seen is that the designers
were happy with the satellites' performances.
The root problem is that of the three vehicles Amazon has contracted, Ariane Space's
Ariane 6, Blue Origin's New Glenn and ULA's Vulcan Centaur, not one has
successfully flown, yet. That's aside from five more Atlas V launches.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, the world's most reliable launch vehicle, was left out of Amazon's multibillion-dollar rocket purchase. This led to a lawsuit filed in August by shareholders of a pension fund that includes Amazon stock. The suit claims Amazon, its founder Jeff Bezos, and its board of directors breached "their fiduciary duty" and failed to consider SpaceX during the launch service procurement.
Aside from the Atlas V, which Amazon will lean on to launch its first batches of satellites, none of the rockets needed to deploy the Kuiper network have flown. Production of Atlas V rockets is winding down, and there are no more of those for Amazon to buy.
As we've seen with other nominal competitors to SpaceX, like OneWeb, when push comes to shove, no other launch company in the world could make up a shortfall from delays caused by the other launch providers. SpaceX was targeting 100 Falcon 9 or Heavy launches this year, had their 89th this morning California time from Vandenberg SFB and is working for number 90 at 11:01 PM EST tonight from CCSFS. Oh, and they're targeting one every 2.5 days on average for next year - or roughly 145 launches. Who else even comes close to doing that?