According to a report from Reuters, Amazon has announced its collaboration with state officials to construct a cutting-edge satellite processing facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.With an impressive budget of $120 million, this 100,000 square-foot facility is a crucial component of Amazon’s ambitious Kuiper project, which aims to establish a vast network consisting of 3,200 low Earth-orbiting satellites. The primary purpose of these satellites is to provide broadband internet coverage on a global scale.
The Kuiper internet network is anticipated to be a formidable competitor to SpaceX’s Starlink, led by Elon Musk, while also complementing Amazon’s already dominant web services platform.
The Florida facility will employ a skilled workforce of 50 individuals and serve as the final stage for Amazon’s Kuiper satellites before they journey into space. These satellites will be produced at the main plant located in Redmond, Washington, and then undergo seamless integration into rocket payload fairings at the Florida facility. The fairings act as protective shells surrounding the satellites atop the rockets.
Construction on the site began in January, and Amazon aims to complete it by late 2024. The company plans to send the first batch of satellites to the facility for processing during the first half of 2025.
Steve Metayer, Amazon’s vice president of Kuiper Production Operations, expressed confidence in launching their first mass-produced satellites by 2024, with a target to deploy half of the satellite network into orbit by 2026 as per US regulatory requirements.
To achieve their ambitious goals, Amazon has secured an impressive 77 heavy-lift rocket launch contracts, potentially amounting to billions of dollars. Many of these contracts have been awarded by the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture, United Launch Alliance, and Jeff Bezos’s space company, Blue Origin.
Amazon plans to launch several prototype satellites into space by the end of the year, followed by the first mass-produced satellites in 2024. In the subsequent year, the company intends to begin testing the service with corporate and government customers.
With substantial investment and strategic planning, Amazon is well-positioned to become a major player in the space-based internet industry.