Amazon To Invest $120 Mln In Satellite Processing Facility At NASA's Kennedy Space Center
Amazon (AMZN) has announced its plan to invest $120 million in building a satellite processing facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This move comes as the tech giant prepares to launch the first satellites for its ambitious Project Kuiper internet network. The facility will be constructed at the historic Launch and Landing Facility or LLF, which was previously used for NASA’s Space Shuttle missions. Space Florida, the state’s space economy development arm, now leases and operates the LLF.
Frank DiBello, CEO of Space Florida, expressed excitement about Amazon becoming the first major tenant at the LLF, emphasizing the significance of the state’s entire space ecosystem. Project Kuiper aims to establish a vast network of 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit to provide global high-speed internet access. The 100,000-square-foot processing facility will play a crucial role in preparing the satellites for launch on rockets from the United Launch Alliance and Blue Origin, which is separately owned by Jeff Bezos.
Amazon’s Vice President of Kuiper production operations, Steve Metayer, revealed that construction of the facility is expected to be completed by the end of 2024. The processing of the first production satellites will commence at the facility in early 2025. Amazon secured the largest corporate rocket deal in the industry’s history last year, booking 77 launches from various companies, with options for more when needed, to deploy the satellites promptly to meet regulatory requirements.
The company aims to launch its first two Kuiper prototype satellites in the coming months, pending the readiness of the rocket they will ride on. Originally planned to fly on ABL’s RS1 rocket, the prototypes were moved to ULA’s Vulcan rocket. However, the Vulcan’s inaugural launch has been delayed to the fourth quarter. While Amazon can accommodate the new timeline, it is exploring all options to ensure timely deployment.
Presently, Project Kuiper employs over 1,400 people, with its primary facilities located near Seattle in the cities of Redmond and Kirkland. Amazon also operates additional locations in San Diego, Austin, Texas, New York City, and Washington, D.C. According to Metayer, the company prioritizes talent acquisition, hence its strategic choice of locations.
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