Amazon has announced it will be constructing a $120 million processing facility for its upcoming network of space-based internet satellites, known as Project Kuiper, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
The plant will be housed at the Launch and Landing Facility, which is overseen by Space Florida, the state’s aerospace finance and development authority.
Spanning 100,000 square feet and incorporating a 100-foot high bay, the processing plant will be situated near the runway formerly used for space shuttle landings.
This facility will be utilized to integrate Kuiper internet satellites into the payload fairings of United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Blue Origin rockets before their departure from pads at the nearby Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
The overall investment, including necessary equipment, is anticipated to reach $120 million and bring about 50 new jobs to the Space Coast. Space Florida had previously referenced the development, known as “Project Comet”, in public records and meetings.
“We are proud to continue our investment in Florida and to join the historic Space Coast community as we invest in people and facilities to support Project Kuiper,” commented Brian Huseman, Vice President of Public Policy and Community Engagement at Amazon.
The Kuiper internet satellites will be manufactured in Kirkland, Washington, before being shipped to the KSC. Once at the new facility, the satellites will undergo preparation and be connected to customized dispensers that will deploy them into orbit. Subsequently, they will be encapsulated in the protective fairings of ULA’s Vulcan and Blue Origin’s New Glenn rockets.
Amazon has secured a total of 83 launches with ULA, Blue Origin, and European launcher Arianespace to send its constellation into space. Production of the satellites is expected to commence before year’s end.
With the establishment of its satellite network, Amazon is entering into what could be described as a space-based internet gold rush. This initiative puts Amazon in direct competition with SpaceX’s Starlink network, which currently has approximately 5,000 satellites in low-Earth orbit.
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Amazon plans to launch around 3,200 satellites and will offer three different kinds of customer terminals to receive space-based broadband. The pricing for this service has not yet been revealed.
“Since the early days of rocket launches and payload processing, decades of infrastructure and capital investment has been made, transforming Florida into a global center for the aerospace economy,” stated Frank DiBello, President and CEO of Space Florida. “We couldn’t be more thrilled that Project Kuiper chose Space Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility for this facility, and we look forward to being a part of their mission of global connectivity.”
This investment follows on from Amazon’s $25 billion investment in Florida since 2010. Jeff Bezos’ spaceflight company Blue Origin, which is scheduled to launch its New Glenn rocket no earlier than late 2023, has also poured billions into developments at Launch Complex 36 and infrastructure upgrades around the KSC.