Amazon bets big on satellite biz
Amazon has announced a significant investment in Project Kuiper, its nascent satellite internet business that’s poised to compete with Starlink, a division of Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The e-commerce giant will pour $120 million into a satellite inspection and preparation facility at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, a project it hopes to complete by the end of 2024. To blast Kuiper’s 3,200-plus satellites into low orbit, Amazon has partnered withBlue Origin, the space firm founded by former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, as well as the United Launch Alliance and Arianespace.
- Amazon must deploy half its satellites by the end of 2026 to meet a Federal Communications Commission deadline.
- Starlink has already launched 4,000 internet satellites, PCMag reports.
By Saundra Latham, Editor at LinkedIn News
Project Kuiper is moving one step closer to deploying its full satellite constellation, with construction underway on a new satellite-processing facility at Space Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center.
The facility is the latest long-term investment in Project Kuiper, a low Earth orbit satellite network that will provide fast, affordable broadband to unserved and underserved communities around the world. The space will be used to prepare and integrate Kuiper satellites with rockets from Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance (ULA) ahead of launches. It stems from an expected partnership with Space Florida’s Spaceport Improvement Program—a matching investment initiative to boost critical spaceport infrastructure—and is one of several Amazon investments that will drive innovation and job growth in the state of Florida.
“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,” said Steve Metayer, vice president of Kuiper Production Operations. “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 will begin satellite production at a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Kirkland, Washington, by the end of this year. 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, and integrate the loaded dispensers with launch vehicles. The 100,000-square-foot facility features a 100-foot tall high bay clean room to allow room for the payload fairing of new heavy-lift rockets like Blue Origin’s New Glenn and ULA’s Vulcan Centaur.
Amazon is investing $120 million in new construction and high-value equipment for the facility, and creating up to 50 new jobs on the Space Coast. These Project Kuiper facilities are critical to Amazon’s commitment to spur innovation; design and develop prototype and production satellites; and prepare our satellites for commercial deployment.
“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, Amazon’s satellite broadband network,” said Brian Huseman, vice president of public policy and community engagement at Amazon. “We are grateful to Governor DeSantis and his administration, as well as our regional partners, for investing in infrastructure, training a highly skilled workforce, and maintaining an economic climate that allows Project Kuiper to advance our mission of providing internet access to unserved and underserved communities around the world.”
“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. 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. 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. 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,” said Frank DiBello, president and CEO, Space Florida.
The facility is also the latest in a series of Amazon investments in the U.S. space and satellite industry, and in the state of Florida. Amazon has secured 77 heavy-lift launch vehicles to deploy its satellite constellation, most of which will be provided by U.S. launch providers Blue Origin and ULA, and launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Project Kuiper’s launch agreements will support thousands of suppliers and highly skilled jobs across 49 states, especially in Alabama, Florida, and Colorado. Our investments with ULA also will support infrastructure and service upgrades at Cape Canaveral, benefitting other commercial and government customers launching from Florida.
Project Kuiper infrastructure includes a constellation of over 3,200 satellites in low Earth orbit, affordable, high-performance customer terminals, and ground networking enabled by Amazon Web Services. We recently revealed the design, size, and performance details of our three customer terminals—the antennas Project Kuiper customers will use to receive service.