Investments in space equipment have seen an uptick in recent years and with more frequent launches as well as a number of missions lined up in the near future, the area is evidently seen as a cash cow by the likes of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos.
Amid this, an Amazon shareholder has filed a lawsuit against Bezos and the Amazon board on awarding contracts to Blue Origin and not SpaceX.
According to a report by Reuters, the shareholder has alleged that Bezos and company directors awarded launch contracts worth billions of dollars for the company’s Project Kuiper satellite project to Blue Origin, and did not consider rival Musk’s SpaceX as an alternative launch provider despite its track record.
SpaceX’s rockets are being used by NASA to launch space missions. The company is also launching Starlink satellites aboard the rockets.
What is Amazon’s Project Kupier
Amazon’s Project Kuiper is a planned network of over 3,000 satellites designed to beam internet to remote regions. This is similar to Musk’s Starlink network of satellites.
According to the lawsuit, the launch contracts were the second-largest capital expenditure in Amazon’s history at the time; the acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017 for $13.7 billion is the first.
It also states that Amazon has already paid about $1.7 billion to the three launch providers in the project, including $585 million to Blue Origin directly. The company has not yet launched a prototype of its Kuiper satellite into orbit.
Amazon has already said that Project Kuiper will begin mass-producing the satellites later this year and beta testing with commercial customers in 2024.
The company will also invest $120 million in a satellite processing facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and it will serve as a last stop before sending the satellites into space. Amazon will have to launch half its entire Kuiper network of satellites by 2026.
What Amazon has to say
An Amazon spokesperson said the claims are without merit. “The claims in this lawsuit are completely without merit, and we look forward to showing that through the legal process,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.
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