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Amazon Project Kuiper Reveals Faster Than Fiber Optical Inter-Satellite Link Capabilities

Amazon's Project Kuiper has announced the successful testing and validation of its optical inter-satellite link (OISL) capabilities.

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Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Thu Dec 14 2023Written by Zac Aubert

Amazon's Project Kuiper has announced the successful testing and validation of its optical inter-satellite link (OISL) capabilities.

The company has been diligently conducting tests since the launch of two prototype satellites in October 2023, culminating in the confirmation of a groundbreaking system that has, until now, remained confidential.

100% Success for Protoflight Mission

Within a mere 30 days of deploying two prototype satellites, Project Kuiper achieved a commendable 100% success rate for its Protoflight mission.

Rigorous testing validated all priority systems and subsystems, showcasing nominal or better performance across the board. The successful demonstrations included 4K video streaming and two-way video calls over the Kuiper network, proving the robustness of the satellite constellation's architecture and design.

Optical Inter-Satellite Links (OISL): 

Amazon, the driving force behind Project Kuiper, has now revealed the triumph of inter-satellite link tests between its two prototypes, KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2, stationed in low Earth orbit (LEO).

Project Kuiper's OISL capability utilizes infrared lasers to facilitate direct data transmission between satellites, forming an optical mesh network in space. 

The technology was a clandestine part of the extensive testing regime and has demonstrated the ability to maintain 100 gigabits per second (Gbps) links over a distance of nearly 621 miles (1,000 kilometers) during the Protoflight mission.

The technology is designed to work across distances up to 2,600 kilometers, catering to Amazon's plans for a constellation comprising more than 3,200 satellites.

Data could move 30% faster across Project Kuiper satellites compared to fiber optic cables on the ground.

The potential benefits extend to industries like financial services, where rapid data transfer is crucial, as well as maritime, aviation, and other sectors beyond the reach of terrestrial gateways.

Operational Satellites and Network Resiliency

The successful tests enable Amazon to integrate laser links into operational satellites, with production expected to commence imminently.

Each satellite, built in-house, will feature multiple optical terminals to establish simultaneous connections with an unspecified number of satellites. The mesh network in space significantly enhances network resiliency, allowing data to be rerouted to bypass any satellite failures.

Project Kuiper's Future Endeavors

Amazon plans to start launching commercial satellites, utilizing the same architecture validated during end-to-end tests of KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2, in the first half of 2024.

Contracts with aerospace heavyweights, including United Launch Alliance, Arianespace, Blue Origin, and a recent agreement with SpaceX, position Project Kuiper as a formidable player in the evolving space connectivity landscape.

The company's swift progress, achieved within a mere five years of venturing into satellite design and construction, marks a significant milestone in the pursuit of their global satellite broadband coverage.