NASA selects six companies for near earth space communications, awards contract worth $278 million
NASA is increasingly looking to rely on private space companies for its operations, and it wants to stimulate more commercial activity in areas ranging from space communications to human spaceflight.
NASA has recently awarded contracts worth $278.5 million to Amazon's satellite venture, SpaceX's Starlink network, and other satellite firms to demonstrate communications in space as the United States space agency moves to replace its current satellite network in orbit with privately built systems. NASA is increasingly looking to rely on private space companies for its operations, and it wants to stimulate more commercial activity in areas ranging from space communications to human spaceflight.
Amazon's Project Kuiper, a network of over 3,000 satellites designed to beam broadband internet to rural areas, earned $67 million, while SpaceX's Starlink venture, a bigger satellite-internet network with over 2,000 satellites already in space, received $70 million.
NASA's existing system, known as the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite network, is used to interact with spacecraft in orbit, such as SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule, which transports personnel to and from the International Space Station. According to NASA, each business is anticipated to finish the development and demonstrations of its satellites under the contract by 2025.
Inmarsat, SES, Telesat, and ViaSat are among the other winners. According to observers, competition for providing broadband internet from space is heated, especially among Elon Musk's SpaceX, Amazon, and Telesat, a pricey commercial enterprise that might yield billions of dollars if fully operational. While Starlink is still in the works, it already has thousands of subscribers in a variety of nations. Amazon, which is farther behind schedule, plans to launch its first two prototype satellites in late 2022.