Amazon (AMZN.O) said Amazon is building a $120 million processing facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for thousands of planned Kuiper internet satellites.
The 100,000-square-foot building is part of about $10 billion that Amazon has pledged to invest in its Project Kuiper, a planned network of 3,200 Earth-orbiting satellites designed to send broadband internet globally.
Kuiper’s web, which will largely compete with Elon Musk’s SpaceX company Starlink, is expected to complement Amazon’s web services hub.
The Florida facility will employ 50 employees and will be the last stop for the Amazon Kuiper satellites before they go into space, after they are manufactured at Project Kuiper’s base plant in Redmond, Washington. A room ten stories high would allow the satellites to be installed in the rocket’s payload spaces, the protective shell around the satellites that sits atop the rocket.
Amazon began building the site in January and plans to complete it by late 2024, with the goal of shipping the first batch of satellites to the facility for processing in the first half of 2025, said Steve Metayer, Amazon’s vice president of production operations at Kuiper.
Amazon aims to launch its first mass-produced satellites by early 2024, and will begin a fast-track journey to deploy half of the network into orbit by 2026, as required by US regulators.
The company has been awarded 77 heavy-lift rocket launch contracts, potentially worth billions of dollars collectively, mostly from Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.
Amazon plans to launch the first prototype satellites into space by the end of the year, followed by launching the first mass-produced satellites in 2024.
The company said testing of the service with corporate and government customers would begin that year.
Anna Farrar, a spokeswoman for Space Florida, a state-funded body to attract space companies to Florida, said Amazon is eligible to receive money under a state grant for transportation-related projects but has “not received any funding yet.”
(Reporting by Joey Roulette; Editing by Deba Babbington
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