Amazon’s satellite venture, SpaceX, and other satellite firms have won a combined $278.5 million in contracts from NASA to develop communications in space in a move to privatize the space agency’s current satellite network.
Amazon’s Project Kuiper won $67 million and SpaceX’s Starlink network received $70 million to develop near-Earth satellites to support the communication aspect of future space missions.
The other awardees include Inmarsat, SES, Telesat, and ViaSat.
The space agency said in a statement that it has been evaluating the feasibility of employing private networks for satellite operations as it plans to decommission its own fleet, the Tracking, and Data Relay Satellite network.
“This approach would allow NASA to focus more time and resources on its deep space exploration and science missions,” NASA said.
Each company is expected to complete the development and demonstrations of their projects by 2025, NASA said. The space agency added it plans to seek multiple long-term contracts to acquire services for near-Earth operations by 2030 while phasing out NASA-owned and operated systems.
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