What happened

Shares of Amazon.com (AMZN -0.17%) rose on Tuesday after the online retail and cloud computing giant unveiled its new satellite internet technology. As of 2:05 p.m. ET, Amazon's stock price was up 1.4% after rising nearly 3% earlier in the day.

So what

Amazon is gearing up to challenge SpaceX's Starlink for satellite internet supremacy. The e-commerce titan plans to invest $10 billion to launch more than 3,000 satellites into low Earth orbit in the coming years. The satellite constellation will help to provide fast, affordable broadband to tens of millions of customers around the world, according to Amazon.

The project, known as Kuiper, took a major step forward on Tuesday when Amazon shared its satellite antenna designs with the public for the first time. Customers will be able to use the outdoor antennas to connect with Amazon's space-based broadband network.

To make the service affordable for more people, Amazon built small, lightweight antennas, called customer terminals, that cost less than $500 to manufacture. The terminals will be powered by Amazon's custom-designed Prometheus chips, which feature 5G and other advanced technologies.

Amazon will initially offer three models:

  • A high-performance design for residential and small-business customers, with download speeds up to 400 megabits per second (Mbps)
  • A lower-cost, ultra-compact design offering speeds up to 100 Mbps, designed for price-sensitive consumers and the Internet of Things market
  • A high-bandwidth design with speeds up to 1 gigabit per second that's geared toward the corporate, government, and telecommunications markets

"Our goal with Project Kuiper is not just to connect unserved and underserved communities, but also to delight them with the quality, reliability, and value of their service," Amazon executive Rajeev Badyal said in a blog post. "From day one, every technology and business decision we've made has centered on what will deliver the best experience for different customers around the world, and our range of customer terminals reflects those choices."

Now what

Amazon hopes to deploy its first test satellites as soon as May, when United Launch Alliance is slated to conduct the first flight of its Vulcan Centaur rocket. Amazon is also building a new satellite manufacturing site in Kirkland, Washington. The cloud leader expects to begin offering its new space-based internet service to customers in 2024.