Saturday, 22 July 2023

Amazon is building a $120M facility in Florida for Project Kuiper satellite processing

by Rose White

Amazon will spend $120 million on a new satellite processing facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), as the company gears up to launch the first batch of Project Kuiper prototype satellites in 2024.

Construction is already underway on the new facility, the company said Friday. It will be strategically located near the launch operators that will eventually send Kuiper satellites to orbit: Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, which operates a massive campus at KSC and a launch complex at Cape Canaveral Space Force Base, and United Launch Alliance.

The 100,000-square-foot processing facility will be located at KSC’s historic Launch and Landing Facility, which was formerly known as the Shuttle Landing Facility. The site is now maintained and operated by Space Florida, an organization dedicated to stimulating space industry investment in the state.

“We have an ambitious plan to begin Project Kuiper’s full-scale production launches and early customer pilots next year, and this new facility will play a critical role in helping us deliver on that timeline,” Kuiper Production Operations VP Steve Metayer said in a statement. “We are proud to partner with Space Florida to bolster the growing space industry in Florida and elsewhere across the United States, and we look forward to adding more talent to our skilled operations and manufacturing team.”

Amazon plans on commencing satellite manufacturing at its Kirkland, Washington-based facility later this year. The new site in Florida will receive those satellite shipments and complete final check-outs prior to launch. The facility includes a 100-foot tall clean room to accommodate the payload fairings of Blue Origin’s New Glenn and ULA’s Vulcan Centaur.

With Kuiper, Amazon plans to take on SpaceX’s Starlink with a constellation of more than 3,200 high-speed internet satellites into low Earth orbit. The e-commerce giant has already invested billions into its plans: last year, the company reserved a massive 77 heavy-lift launches from Blue, ULA and Arianespace for the satellite constellation.

Amazon aims on launching two prototype satellites “in the coming months.”