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Amazon designs custom satellite thrusters that will enable more effective maneuvering to avoid space debris, as well as increase the sustainability of Amazon’s satellite network. The project’s name is “Project Kuiper”.
Amazon recently showcased its ability to control satellite movement in space using its self-developed electric propulsion system that includes a custom Hall-effect thruster and a propellant tank filled with krypton for the mission.
According to Cybernews, this successful test provided essential on-orbit data confirming that the satellite design can perform critical functions, including lifting satellites to their designated orbits after launch, maintaining their positions, maneuvering to avoid space debris and other spacecraft, and actively deorbiting them at the end of their missions.
The satellite propulsion system uses less propellant for each satellite maneuver, which allows the company to extend each satellite’s lifespan in the constellation and contribute to overall sustainability.
Rajeev Badyal, Project Kuiper’s vice president of technology said that space safety and sustainability have been fundamental to Project Kuiper “since day one”, adding that their propulsion system is one of the first systems they built and tested in the lab.
“Our custom thrusters are a prime example of Kuiper innovation, and using them to maneuver safely in space was a critical piece of our Protoflight mission. The positive results give us even more confidence in our plans to deploy and operate our satellite constellation,” Badyal added.
Project Kuiper, established in 2019 by Amazon, is focused on deploying a vast network of satellites for fast broadband internet, with the first pair of prototype satellites for the planned Kuiper internet network launched at the beginning of October 2023. This attempt by Amazon to secure its place as a satellite internet provider is seen as a response to its competition- SpaceX’s Starlink.
Amazon reportedly intends to deploy 3,236 more satellites in the next few years and offer broadband internet globally.