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Amazon's Project Kuiper internet satellites launching this week - TWIRL #132

A ULA rocket taking off

This Week in Rocket Launches we have just a handful of satellite launches this week. We get some from SpaceX and Arianespace but also one from United Launch Alliance which will be orbiting prototypes of Amazon’s Project Kuiper satellites.

Friday, 6 October

  • Who: United Launch Alliance
  • What: Atlas V 501
  • When: 6:00 p.m. UTC
  • Where: Cape Canaveral AFS Launch Complex 41, Titan III Rd, Titusville, Florida, US
  • Why: United Launch Alliance will be launching an Atlas V rocket carrying two prototype satellites for Amazon’s Kuiper constellation. These are the first satellites Amazon is launching for its Kuiper constellation and they will carry much of the same technology that the final versions of the satellite will be equipped with. One of the prototypes will also have a sunshade to help reduce the reflectivity of the satellite. This aspect will be of importance to astronomers who are concerned by the increasing number of satellites and the impact they are having on their astronomy work. Similar to SpaceX’s Starlink constellation, Project Kuiper aims to beam the internet back to Earth. This could increase competition in satellite internet and could potentially lower prices for consumers.

Saturday, 7 October

  • Who: SpaceX
  • What: Falcon 9 B5
  • When: Unknown
  • Where: Vandenberg AFB Space Launch Complex 4, California, US
  • Why: SpaceX will be launching a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 21 Starlink mini satellites into a low Earth orbit. Unlike Amazon’s Kuiper satellites which will use a sunshade, the Starlink satellites are painted with anti-reflective coatings. The satellites are known as Starlink Group 7-4. You can use various mobile apps to try to find these specific satellites when they’re in orbit with this group identifier.

  • Who: Arianespace
  • What: Vega
  • When: 1:36 a.m. UTC
  • Where: French Guiana
  • Why: Arianespace will be using a Vega rocket to launch 12 satellites including the THEOS 2, Triton, and ProbaV-CC into orbit. The THEOS 2 satellite is an Earth observation satellite built by AIrbus for Thailand and complements THEOS 1 which launched in 2008. The Triton satellite was built by the Taiwanese Space Agency (TASA) and is a global navigation satellite system-reflectometry tool to help gather ocean wind data to better predict the direction and intensity of typhoons.


  • The first launch last week was a Falcon 9 carrying Starlink satellites into orbit where they will beam internet to the Earth.
  • Starlink launches are a frequent occurrence as any reader knows, just a few days after the mission above, SpaceX launched another Starlink mission.
  • On Tuesday evening (UTC), China launched a Long March 4C carrying the Yaogan 33 04 remote sensing satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre. It will be used for scientific experiments, land resource surveys, crop yield estimates, disaster prevention, and relief work.
  • Last week was a bit strange because we got the launch of the Iranian Qased rocket carrying the Noor 3 satellite. We don’t normally see many launches from Iran so it’s interesting to get a look at their rockets.
  • Finally, SpaceX launched yet another batch of Starlink satellites on a Falcon 9.

That’s all for today, be sure to check in next time!

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