A Falcon 9 rocket launches a Starlink mission on January 31, 2023 from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
Amazon bought three rocket launches from SpaceX for its Project Kuiper internet satellites, the tech giant announced on Friday.
The move is a surprise from Amazon, given the company’s Kuiper system aims to compete with Elon Musk’s Starlink in the satellite broadband market. Both Starlink and Kuiper represent multibillion-dollar efforts to create networks with thousands of satellites in orbit to serve customers ranging from consumers to governments.
Amazon previously made a blockbuster order for launches from three of SpaceX’s top rocket rivals, including Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin — a decision which came under scrutiny in a shareholder lawsuit against Amazon earlier this year that alleged Bezos’ rivalry with fellow billionaire Musk led to snubbing SpaceX.
While Bezos founded both Amazon and Blue Origin, the companies are separate entities.
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SpaceX, the most active rocket operator in the world, has been adamant that it will continue launching Starlink competitors on its rockets. The company previously launched a number of other companies’ broadband satellites to orbit and signed deals for future launches as well.
In Friday’s announcement, Amazon said it signed with SpaceX for three Falcon 9 launches in mid-2025. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
The SpaceX deal marks the latest shift in Amazon’s strategy as the company pushes to get Kuiper to space in time to meet federal regulations. Federal Communications Commission rules require that Amazon deploy half of its planned 3,236 satellites in orbit by July 2026.
Amazon has orders for more than 77 launches from Blue Origin, United Launch Alliance, Arianespace and ABL. But delays in the development of those rockets have led Amazon to change launch plans before: The company twice switched the rocket that its first pair of Kuiper prototypes would fly on, in an effort to expedite development, before the mission launched in October.
The Kuiper prototypes completed testing successfully, Amazon announced last month, with the company pushing to begin manufacturing commercial satellites for launches next year.
Amazon expects to invest upwards of $10 billion to build Kuiper. Earlier this year the company broke ground on a $120 million pre-launch processing facility in Florida.