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 Kennedy Space Center.
This 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. 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.
The satellite-processing facility, spanning more than 100,000 square feet, includes a 100-foot tall clean room. There, 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.
"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. 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. Amazon has already secured launch agreements for 77 heavy-lift launch vehicles, with most of these launches planned from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
"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," said Frank DiBello, president and CEO, Space Florida. "Space Florida has 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. Starlink has plans for a constellation of more than 42,000 satellites, so Amazon's Project Kuiper has its work cut out for it.
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John is a science and technology journalist and Space.com contributor. He received his B.A. in English and his M.A. in Computer Science from the City University of New York, Brooklyn College, and has bylines with TechRadar, Live Science, and other publications. You can find him on Twitter at @thisdotjohn or seeking out dark sky country for spectacular views of the cosmos.