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Amazon Building $120M Project Kuiper Satellite Facility at Florida's Kennedy Space Center

Thu August 10, 2023 - Southeast Edition #18
Space.com & Amazon


Amazon announced in July that it was investing $120 million in new construction and high-value equipment for the facility and creating up to 50 new jobs on the Space Coast. (Amazon photo)
Amazon announced in July that it was investing $120 million in new construction and high-value equipment for the facility and creating up to 50 new jobs on the Space Coast. (Amazon photo)
Amazon announced in July that it was investing $120 million in new construction and high-value equipment for the facility and creating up to 50 new jobs on the Space Coast. (Amazon photo) Project Kuiper infrastructure includes affordable, high-performance customer terminals that serve as the outdoor antennas its customers will use to receive service from the satellites passing overhead. Each of the three designs and sizes resemble simple desktops. (Amazon photo)

Amazon's Project Kuiper is making progress in its goal of deploying a full satellite constellation as it begins construction of a cutting-edge satellite-processing facility at Space Florida's Launch and Landing Facility, located at the Kennedy Space Center.

The ambitious project is an essential component of Project Kuiper's low Earth orbit satellite network, which hopes to compete with SpaceX's Starlink satellite system in providing global broadband internet service.

Amazon announced in July that it was investing $120 million in new construction and high-value equipment for the facility and creating up to 50 new jobs on the Space Coast.

Project Kuiper's complex is critical to the mega-company's commitment to spur innovation, design and develop prototype and production satellites, and prepare them for commercial deployment.

Designed to help pair Kuiper satellites with rockets from both Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance (ULA), the facility represents a significant long-term investment in Project Kuiper from Amazon, according to an Aug. 1 report by Space.com.

The processing facility, spanning more than 100,000 sq. ft. of space, includes a 100-ft.-tall clean room where satellites will undergo final preparations before being connected to custom spacecraft dispensers from commercial space logistics firm Beyond Gravity. These dispensers will then be integrated with launch vehicles, including Blue Origin's New Glenn and ULA's Vulcan Centaur rockets.

Amazon Looking to Begin Launches Next Year

Amazon said it is preparing to launch two prototype satellites in the coming months to help test its network and subsystems and expects to begin production launches and early enterprise customer pilots in 2024.

"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," Steve Metayer, vice president of Kuiper Production Operations, said in a company 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," he continued. "These employees will play an important part in our mission to connect tens of millions of customers worldwide."

Project Kuiper's partnership with Florida's Spaceport Improvement Program will see continued investment in the state's spaceport infrastructure, Metayer added. Amazon has already secured launch agreements for 77 heavy-lift launch vehicles, with most of these launches planned for the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

"Adding Amazon's Project Kuiper satellite payload processing facility to the region's growing industrial capability in commercial space is a testament to the power of building a statewide ecosystem that supports companies across the entire aerospace supply chain," noted Frank DiBello, president, and CEO, of Space Florida. "[We have] invested in bringing together unrivaled experience, unmatched financial tools, and an unbeatable location to offer companies opportunities for sustainable, long-term growth."

Project Kuiper's constellation will eventually feature 3,200 satellites in low Earth orbit, with customer terminals and ground networking powered by Amazon Web Services.

Amazon recently unveiled the design of Project Kuiper terminals, which it hopes will take a bite out of SpaceX Starlink's market share, though how much remains to be seen. Space.com noted that Starlink plans call for a constellation of more than 42,000 satellites, so Amazon's Project Kuiper will have its work cut out for it.

Project Kuiper the Result of Multi-Faceted Effort

Project Kuiper will begin satellite production at a manufacturing facility in Kirkland, Wash., by the end of this year, according to Amazon. The new satellite-processing facility in Florida will be used to receive those satellite shipments, conduct final preparations ahead of launches, connect satellites to custom dispensers from Beyond Gravity, an aerospace manufacturer in Huntsville, Ala., and integrate the loaded dispensers with launch vehicles.

Project Kuiper's launch agreements also will support thousands of other suppliers and highly skilled jobs across 49 states, especially in Alabama, Florida and Colorado. Additionally, its investments with ULA mean there will be infrastructure and service upgrades at Cape Canaveral, benefiting other commercial and government customers launching from Florida.

Beyond its multitude of low Earth orbit satellites, Project Kuiper infrastructure includes affordable, high-performance customer terminals that serve as the outdoor antennas its customers will use to receive service from the satellites passing overhead. Each of the three designs and sizes resemble simple desktops.




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