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Amazon Finalizes Rocket Launch Deal With 3 Companies

Retail giant Amazon.com Inc (AMZN) said on Monday that it had finalized rocket launches with three companies even as it spends billions on getting together a satellite constellation to beam broadband internet, which will compete with rival Elon Musk-owned SpaceX's Starlink.

Amazon said that its Project Kuiper has got 83 launches over a period of five years and this includes a deal with Blue Origin, a company owned by Amazon founder and chairman Jeff Bezos.

The race to spread broadband internet using thousands of satellites in low earth orbit is getting competitive, with SpaceX topping the other players till now. Project Kuiper plans to launch its first two prototype satellites by year's end.
Commenting on the developments, an Amazon spokesperson said, "Amazon is investing billions of dollars across the three agreements. Together, it is the largest commercial procurement of launch vehicles in history."

The contract includes 18 launches with Arianespace's Ariane 6 rockets, 12 launches with Blue Origin's New Glenn - with an option to add up to 15 more - and 38 launches with the Vulcan Centaur rocket made by United Launch Alliance or ULA, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin (LMT) and Boeing Co. (BA).

Amazon said that the collaboration would provide capacity for the company to deploy the majority of its satellite constellation.

The deals are dependent on three heavy-lift rockets, which are yet to fly and whose development has been delayed. Arianespace's Ariane 6, under development, could launch up to 40 Kuiper satellites each mission, said the company's chief executive Stéphane Israël.

Also under development is Blue Origin's New Glenn, which can carry 61 Kuiper satellites while ULA's Vulcan will carry 45, the companies' CEOs said in Tuesday at a conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Dave Limp, head of Amazon's devices unit, said the company "wanted diversity in our launch partnerships," which includes previously announced deals with ULA and rocket startup ABL Space.

"It's the largest contract ever signed by Arianespace in its history," ArianeGroup CEO André-Hubert Roussel told Reuters, reluctant to provide any financial details. "It's the result of two years and half of talks with them," he said, adding that the launches would take place between 2024 and 2027.

Project Kuiper plans to use more than 3,000 satellites in low earth orbit to send high-speed, low-latency internet to customers, including households, businesses and government agencies.

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