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Amazon Invests in a New Florida Facility to Integrate Kuiper Satellites for Launch

By Rachel Jewett | July 21, 2023
Rendering of Amazon's new satellite integration facility set to open in 2025 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Photo: Amazon

Rendering of Amazon’s new satellite integration facility set to open in 2025 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Photo: Amazon

Amazon is investing $120 million in a new satellite processing facility in Florida as it ramps up activity for the Project Kuiper constellation. Amazon and Space Florida announced the new facility on Friday, it will be located at Space Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. 

The new 100,000 square foot facility is expected to be operational in 2025 and will bring up to 50 new jobs to the area, Space Florida said in a release. Space Florida has also approved Amazon to be eligible for $3.2 million in Florida Department of Transportation Spaceport Improvement Program funding for infrastructure improvements, but no dollars have been deployed, a Space Florida representative confirmed to Via Satellite.

Amazon plans to build the Kuiper satellites at the facility in Kirkland, Washington, acquired last year, with production starting by the end of this year. The satellites will be shipped to Florida and received by the new facility, where Amazon will conduct final preparations ahead of launches, connect satellites to custom dispensers from Beyond Gravity, and integrate the loaded dispensers with launch vehicles.

The site features a 100-foot tall high bay clean room that will fit the payload fairing of new heavy-lift rockets like Blue Origin’s New Glenn and ULA’s Vulcan Centaur. 

Amazon faces an FCC deadline to have half of its constellation launched by July 2026. The company has been ramping up activity on Kuiper in the past year and half with massive launch contracts, new manufacturing facilities, and user terminal designs

Amazon said Friday that its first two prototype satellites will launch “in the coming months.” These satellites are slated to launch on the first ULA Vulcan Centaur mission, which was expected for early this year — but is now pushed to the fourth quarter. The company expects to begin production launches and early enterprise customer pilots in 2024.

“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.”

Kuiper will be a Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation to provide satellite broadband internet to unserved and underserved communities around the world — a future competitor with SpaceX Starlink and OneWeb. Earlier this year, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said Kuiper is among the long-term investments that could become a fourth pillar of the company in the future. 

This new Florida facility comes through partnership with Space Florida, the state’s aerospace economic development agency. Space Florida President Frank DiBello said Amazon is the first land lease and development project after a utility corridor was built at Space Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility in 2022. 

DiBello said the deal is a testament to Florida building a statewide ecosystem to support the aerospace supply chain. “This facility coming to Florida underscores the importance of our decades of infrastructure improvements and capital investments that have transformed Florida into a global center for the space economy,” he said. 

Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, chair of the Space Florida board of directors applauded the deal as well: “This partnership not only fuels Florida’s reputation as the gateway to space, but also accelerates Space Florida’s mission to transform the Launch and Landing Facility into the premier location for aerospace innovation.”